Gastroenterology General Practice Hot Topics

Fact Check: If you Swallow Chewing Gum it Stays in your Stomach

If you swallow chewing gum it stays in your stomach for years‘.

I’m sure we’ve all been told this one before. Along with ‘if the wind changes your face will stay like that’, my parents were always keen to warn me of the dangers of swallowing chewing gum. Here, at Doctify HQ, being the provider of emergency minty gum always makes you popular. But does this breath-saviour really lurk in our stomach for years if we swallow it?

We asked top General Surgeon Consultant Mr Khaled Dawas to clarify this myth. As a specialist with years of experience in surgery of the stomach and oesophagus, he has the expertise to answer our concerns.

“I’ve never seen chewing gum in a stomach in the thousands of endoscopies I have performed”, Mr Dawas immediately reassures.

So, what does happen if you swallow chewing gum?

Though there are several ingredients in chewing gum that are known to be indigestible (they make up the gum base that puts the ‘chew’ in chewing gum), Mr Dawas says that chewing gum is easily handled by the stomach. “Our stomachs and bowels are very efficient and resilient. A piece of gum passes through the stomach into the bowel and eventually out in stool very fast. It won’t last days…unless you’re very constipated or have stomach emptying problems.”

Mr Dawas explains that the only ingredient with any nutritional value in a piece of gum is the sugar. However, many chewing gum manufacturers now use artificial sweeteners to enhance the flavour. So those ‘sugar-free’ labels aren’t always a good thing.

Medical Myth: False

It’s probably best to avoid swallowing copious amounts of gum if you can, and limit your intake of sugary foods in general but, fear not, Mr Dawas jokes, “You won’t grow a lemon tree in your stomach on swallowing a citrus chewing gum.”

Phew! Now, does anyone have some gum?

Next in the Doctify Fact Checking series: Can a Dairy Free Diet Cure Acne?

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Book an appointment with Mr Khaled Dawas