Brigid Mary Doherty asks: What really happens to gum when you swallow it?
As you can imagine, this is a question pediatricians often field. Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson estimates she gets asked a couple times per year by a nervous child.
The answer, despite what your parents may have told you, is exactly what you think it would be.
“Gum is broken down like other foods, but some parts (gum resins) move through your intestines after the sugars are absorbed,” said Dr. Swanson, pediatrician and author of Seattle Children’s Hospital’s Seattle Mama Doc blog. “While it might take a few hours or days longer than other foods to digest, it will eventually be expelled when you poop.”
“No, the myth isn’t true — gum doesn’t stick around in your stomach for 7 years!” she added.
Gum does represent a choking hazard, which may be the reason parents have created urban myths to dissuade Junior from swallowing his Bubblelicious. But, it appears a swallowed piece of gum will not create a “gum tree” in your stomach or any other side effects told to you by your siblings.