Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Duke Medicine: Does it really take seven years to digest chewing gum?

Posted October 3, 2011 8:33 p.m. EDT

It can happen on purpose or by accident: One minute you’re chewing happily, then -- gulp! -- that flavorful wad of gum is in your stomach. And, the old adage says, there the gum will remain for the next seven years.

But will it really? That’s not likely, says Duke gastroenterologist Nancy McGreal, who debunked this commonly heard myth.

Given the apparent harmlessness of swallowing gum, it’s difficult to say where this myth came from, but a reasonable guess would point a finger at generations of parents trying to teach children not to swallow non-food items.

Click here to read more about what happens to swallowed gum in the full post on Duke Medicine, Go Ask Mom's sponsor, offers health information every Tuesday.