Is Swallowing Gum Actually Bad For Me?

We admit it, we used to be afraid of swallowing gum and we still are a bit. But do we need to be?


Gum can stick to many surfaces—the bottom of your shoes, the underside of your desk and the locks of your flowing body hair (in even the most private of areas).

But your digestive tract isn’t one of them.

Some of the hygiene tips passed around the handball court have merit; the idea that swallowed chewing gum stays in your stomach for seven years, however, isn’t one of them. Like most things you eat, gum moves through your digestive system in about six to eight hours. Or better put, you excrete it in roughly that timeframe. (Gum isn’t exactly digested since it’s made mostly of insoluble ingredients.)

Which generally doesn’t cause any gastrointestinal problems. “It’s only potentially dangerous for people with surgically modified GI tracts and small children to swallow larger amounts of chewing gum because it may cause a blockage,” says Justin Grobe, professor of pharmacology at the University of Iowa.

So while there are still plenty of places where chewing gum can get you into trouble (we’re looking at you Singapore), thankfully, your stomach isn’t one of them.