A Straight Dope Classic from Cecil's Storehouse of Human Knowledge

Is swallowing chewing gum dangerous?

March 29, 1985

Dear Cecil:

My friends at work were amazed when I mentioned that on the average I chew eight to ten sticks of gum each day. But when I said that I always swallow it they were horrified and seemed shocked that I lived to tell about it. Please tell me--is there any danger in swallowing chewing gum?

Dear Patrick:

Cecil has heard numerous theories on this subject over the years, each one more knuckleheaded than the last. One version has it that the gum stays in your stomach for seven years. Another says it winds up in your appendix, along with your fingernail nubs, should you happen to be addicted to nail biting. All of these ideas, needless to say, are jive. It's true that chewing gum base is indigestible, but humans consume a great many things that are indigestible. (You ever try Crispy Critters?) All such roughage is simply eliminated from the body after the usual jog down the alimentary canal.

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A Straight Dope Classic by Cecil Adams

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