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Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D.

If you swallow gum, will it stay in your stomach for seven years?

By January 1, 2008

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You've heard the legends. If you swallow your gum it will take seven years to digest. If you swallow your gum it will stay in your stomach forever. Fact? Fiction? The answer partly depends on the kind of gum you're chewing. If natural gum (chicle) stayed in your stomach, it would dissolve in the highly acidic environment long before seven years had passed. However, most gum is made of synthetic polymers, not the natural latex of the original product. Basically this means most gum is plastic. How long does it take for plastic to dissolve in your stomach? I don't know. You could test that with a science fair project perhaps... see how long it takes for gum to dissolve in acid. Gum doesn't stay in your stomach, however. It continues its journey into your intestines, eventually finding its way out of your system in pretty much the same condition as when you swallowed it. If the gum gets stuck in your intestinal tract, it actually could stay there forever. In rare cases, swallowing gum can lead to the development of an intestinal stone, called a bezoar or enterolith. These form when a difficult-to-digest substance gets trapped. The obstruction becomes calcified and hardens to become a permanent addition to your body.

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Comments

June 18, 2008 at 7:17 pm
(1) Ryan Mounts says:

hey thank you for your comment it is really going to help me on my project. i wont actually be doing the experiment that you have stated, just the experiment of the question that you have asked and answer
thanks whom ever…

November 25, 2008 at 7:17 pm
(2) cashmere says:

Is gum bad for your teeth.

November 13, 2009 at 4:16 pm
(3) t!k!b@by says:

some gum is bad for your teeth but gum like extra(wriglys) have a section on the side saying it is certified by the fda or something meaning it actually helps yours teeth doing a science fair project on it so it requires a lot of research <3

December 9, 2009 at 8:41 pm
(4) makayla says:

this is what i am doing for my science project i will let you know how it turns out

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