Does Swallowed Gum Stay in Your Body for Years?

The myth: Gum stays in your body for years. True or false? Mike Dawson has the answer.

If, as a kid, you ever fell into a wide-eyed and frenzied panic after accidentally swallowing a piece of grape Bubble Yum—scared that you were destined to live with a purple lump in your stomach for seven years—consider this: Gum will not stay in your body for even seven days, let alone a year.

It'll exit your system in about three days, at the same rate as other food, says Maged Rizk, M.D., the director of the Abdominal Pain Clinic at the Cleveland Clinic (see our discussion of digestion).

While no one (especially kids) should regularly ingest large wads of the stuff, as it can literally bind up the intestinal tract, occasionally downing your Doublemint is actually one of the least harmful ways to partake in chewing gum. Repetitive chomping can actually wreak havoc on your teeth and gums, and those sugar-free varieties—much like diet soda—help sustain and even strengthen your sweet tooth, making staying slim even more challenging, or so say dozens of buzz-killing studies that, in the name of public health, take all the fun out of gum.

So the next time you pop in a piece of Trident to mask your garlic breath, know you're living life dangerously, you rebel.

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— Dawson is a magazine writer and editor and a regular contributor to Details.

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