Whether you like to feel extra minty, or enjoy annoying colleagues and commuters with constant, loud chomping, millions of people around the world love to chew gum. For thousands of years, human beings have been stuffing sticky strands of something or other into their mouths, as a welcome alternative to having nothing to do with your jaw. No one has ever really considered whether or not this is a good idea.
As it turns out, there are plenty of drawbacks to chewing gum dependency. Some can affect your health, others might ruin your life. All will make you think twice before opening that next packet of Wrigley’s. Here are seven reasons why chewing gum is a seriously bad idea.
1. Artificial Sweeteners
The war on sugar has forced all confectionery manufacturers to get creative when it comes to flavouring their product. This means that there are all sorts of nasty surprises waiting in almost every packet of chewing gum. Sweeteners such as sucralose and aspartame are known to be toxic to the liver and have potentially carcinogenic effects.
Not that the alternative is any better. Putting your teeth in regular contact with high quantities of sugar is a recipe for tooth decay, gum disease and all sorts of dangerous side effects. Gum disease in particular can be a precursor to bad breath, strokes, cancer and heart disease, if left untreated.
3. Jail time
In some countries, the potential health risks of a stick of gum are the least of your worries. In Singapore, gum is considered contraband, carrying a fine of several thousand pounds and a potentially hefty jail sentence. Though there is an exception for gum prescriptions from dentists and doctors, gum is all but absent from Singapore’s streets.
There are plenty of old adages about the dangers of swallowing your gum, but the truth is actually much more shocking than you might expect. Nearly 5,000 people choke to death every year in the US alone, according to Statista - a good proportion of which comes from accidentally swallowing gum.
5. “Gut Destruction”
It might sound like a particularly dodgy 90s metal band, but “gut destruction” is no laughing matter. According to the “Dr Axe” website (which, coincidentally, also sounds like an equally dodgy metal band), nanoparticles of titanium dioxide are capable of wreaking havoc with your stomach lining and damage small intestinal cells.
6. Fruit Hating
Another, slightly more subtle impact of chewing more minty gum maybe the accidental effect it has on your diet. In 2015, “Time” magazine reported on a study from the University of Buffalo, which showed that chewing gum regularly may make you less inclined to eat healthy foods such as fruit, without diminishing your appetite for junk.
Obviously, death is the worst possible outcome from eating anything, but there is mounting evidence that it could be a real possibility with chewing gum. Aside from choking, a case from 2011 shows that accidentally swallowing gum can also be disastrous. Samantha Jenkins tragically lost her life after gum in her stomach stopped her from absorbing essential minerals and nutrients - causing her to collapse into a fit and eventually die.
It’s easy to think that something like chewing gum is essentially innocuous. After all, what damage can a few chews actually do? As a few of these tales prove, there can be more to a packet than meets the eye.