We’ve all heard the tale: Whenever you swallow gum, it stays in your stomach for years; sometimes seven, sometimes ten, depending on who’s giving the warning. Over the years, as the story goes, all the chewing gum can build up and cause serious issues. And just think: That wad of gum you swallowed five years ago may still be in your stomach! Gross!
So is it bad to swallow gum? In reality, these stories are just old wives’ tales. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Although chewing gum is designed to be chewed and not swallowed, it generally isn't harmful if swallowed.” Everything that we swallow, as long as it isn’t sharp and pointy, will work its way through our digestive tract, whether it’s actually digested or not. In gum’s case, it doesn’t get digested; it just travels through our system, intact, at the same speed as everything else we eat.
This doesn’t mean that you want to be swallowing gobs of gum every day, especially if you’re a kid. Combined with constipation, large amounts of swallowed chewing gum can cause blocked intestines in children. But if you;re a healthy adult, swallowing a wad of chewing gum on occasion won't have any ill effects.