Myths busted: does it really take 7 years to digest gumHealth 

Myths busted: does it really take 7 years to digest gum?

At some stage of our lives, we have all been told not to swallow chewing gum as it will stay in our digestive system for the next seven years. Is this really true? The experts at House Call Doctor have laid out everything you need to know.

Simply, the myth is false. Like any other food, chewing gum will pass through your digestive system normally. The human body breaks down components of chewing gum (for instance, sweeteners) while the rubber, or latex base, of the chewing gumis digested in several days.

Although this may be reassuring for some people, do not go swallowing all the gum you chew anytime soon. There have been several instances where children have swallowed gum and doctors have had to remove this from their bowels.

For example, a report in Paediatricsin 1998 discussed how three children suffered from gastrointestinal blockages as a result of swallowing gum. Two of the children were given chewing gum as a reward for good behaviour and often swallowed it. Both of the children became constipated and the chewing gum became clumped, forming into a ‘taffylike’ mass.

The third child affected was only 18 months old and had swallowed four coins followed by a piece of chewing gum. This resulted in the coins becoming lodged in her oesophagus all fused together by the chewing gum.

This exemplifies how swallowing gum in a short period of time can potentially cause the pieces to accumulate and impact the digestive tract. If this occurs,a usual consequence is constipation.

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