Our parents invented some pretty wild stories to prevent us from swallowing things we weren’t supposed to. Now that we’re older (and wiser), we know watermelon seeds won’t actually sprout a tree in our stomach. But what about the tales of gum sticking around in our digestive tract for years?
So where does the myth come from? Possibly from a real but rare phenomenon called a bezoar, a mass of undigested matter stuck in your stomach or intestines. If your cat hacks up hairballs, you know what I’m talking about. There is such a thing as a “chewing gum bezoar,” but it’s so rare that there have only been three cases reported in the medical literature—ever. Still – properly dispose of your gum, but that’s because swallowing it is gross, not because it’s unsafe.