What Happens If You Eat Paper Towels?

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Do you eat paper towels intentionally or do you belong to the second group, those who accidentally ate some little piece of paper towels or like we see in movies at times when people try to hide evidence by chewing papers? 

Then pay rapt attention here as I will explain all you need to know here. I will try to paint two scenarios here that will make a difference to our judgement.

The first is someone who happens to eat paper towels accidentally just as I have stated above. 

Are paper towels edible

For this situation, it is safe to say that eating paper towels cannot have any meaning harm to the body, as usual, it would just be a little chunk of it that is been consumed by the body. 

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In that little quantity, it cannot have any bad effects on the body system because paper towels are made of cellulose which is digestible in the body. The body will digest it just as it would if you ate a portion of normal food.

Now the second scenario will address those who eat paper towels intentionally and also in large quantities. 

People who may fall victim to this are more likely suffering from pica syndrome or pregnant women, or someone who suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder. (We shall look into this in detail as we progress.)

PS:  Paper towels can be quite dangerous and harmful to the body if eaten or swallowed in large quantities.

The likely cause of this are not entirely down to the listed above, there are many other factors that may contribute to this problem.

Now straight to the point, I consume a lot of paper towels in large quantities, what will happen to me?

Consuming paper towels in large quantities can have many side effects on the body, it is very dangerous and not advised to do so. We should try as much as possible to tame the urge to consume the substance.

Paper towels contain two chemicals that can compromise our health. They are chlorine and formaldehyde. Chlorine is a bleaching agent that is used to whiten paper towels and it contains two by-products, dioxin and furans which are very harmful to the body.

The world health organization conducted research on dioxins and furans and it was revealed that the most potent dioxin is considered a group 1 carcinogen.

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What are carcinogen?

Carcinogen are substances, chemicals in food we eat or products that we administer into the body that develops cancer in the body system.

Having known what carcinogen is, I don’t think you need a medical doctor to tell you any further about the complication of consuming paper towels.

Although chemicals present in paper towels are in small quantities, when consumed in large quantities, it can cause these chemicals to accumulate in the body system thus it’s only a matter of time before the side effects begin to rear its head.

They can cause immune system impairments, hormonal disorders, cancer, reduced fertility and birth defects in infants.

Then there is formaldehyde which is also a carcinogen agent, another chemical is bisphenol, these are all substances that shouldn’t find their way to the body because when they accumulate in the body, they cause catastrophic effects in the body system.

Now I guess with this I have been able to shine some light on what happens if you eat paper towels. Let’s dive into other related topics that may be of concern to the topic.

Are paper towels toxic to humans if swallowed or eaten?

To put it in a simple language, paper towels can be toxic to humans. Consuming paper towels comes with some side effects that will be revealed as this write-up progresses.

Are paper towels nutritious to the body?

Yeah, a lot of people are very curious as regards the nutritious effects of paper towels on the body. Paper towels have absolutely no nutritious benefits to the body. They produce no minerals or vitamins or acids that can help the human body system, so in summary, they are not nutritious to the body.

Can you microwave foods with paper towels?

Having known that paper towels are harmful to the body system, can we microwave our foods with paper towels, are there any side effects, is it safe to do so??

Paper towels are safe to use in cooking or microwaving your food, this only applies to white paper towels. Coloured paper towels are not safe to use for microwaving because they contain chemicals due to the presence of ink in them. 

Paper towels can also burn if the temperature is too high in the microwave. A general rule of thumb is to be cautious of the temperature when microwaving our food with paper towels.

Higher temperatures can cause paper towels to burn and in turn melt chemical substances into our food which is not safe for consumption.

In order to prevent burning, it’s advised that paper towels be spread when in use in the microwave, as folding paper towels in the microwave can cause them to accumulate heat at an alarming rate, which may escalate into burning. 

Am I crazy if I crave eating paper towels?

Well may be not clinically crazy to say but it’s a very bad idea for an individual to crave eating paper towels especially if the act is carried out intentionally.

Another condition that can be responsible for this urge is called pica. It’s a disorder associated with persistent cravings for non-food substances. People who suffer from pica experience extreme desire for non-food substances, these substances have no nutritional benefits to the body.

Now, what is pica?

PICA comes from the Latin name magpie, a bird that is known for its unusual eating habits. As stated above, persons suffering from pica may experience an unusual desire to consume substances that are not healthy for the body.

What do people with pica eat?

People experiencing this disorder typically crave substances like clay, paper or paper towels, ice, crayons, dirt, paint, sand, soap and faeces. 

The list does not end here as there are other items that might not be listed here, this serves as a general example that may help us build an idea of what this substance can be. As listed above, we can see that the listed items are generally substances that shouldn’t find their way to the body.

Types of pica

Furthermore, pica disorder can be divided into three sub-categories which are:

  1. Amylophagia: This type of pica cause the patient to crave the intake of starch.
  2. Geophagia: It’s characterized by the compulsive intake of earth substances like sand, clay and soil etc.
  3. Pagophagia: People experiencing this kind of pica develops the urge to consume ice at an alarming rate.

This may be further influenced by the lack of iron in the body system. In order to make up for this deficiency, the patient suffers from the extreme urge to consume ice.

Causes of pica

The causes of pica cannot be attributed to any particular thing but there are patterns that have been recognized in people suffering from pica. 

Pica can be experienced by both the young and old, but it is very dominant within the young ones mainly children, even teenagers are not exempted.

  • Pregnancy: Pregnancy can cause a person to develop pica disorder, the lack of vital nutrients( zinc or iron) in the body can cause pregnant women to experience pica.
  • Bad nutrition: Also another cause of pica. Proper dieting should be adhered to, to prevent a case like this from occurring.
  • Childhood: Various studies carried out have revealed that children under the age of 3 or infants have higher chances of developing pica. This is expected as children typically try to put a lot of things to their mouths when they aren’t given proper attention.

How to get rid of pica ( remedies for pica)

The treatment of pica depends on the cause and type of pica being experienced.  In the case of malnutrition, the doctor may prescribe treatment that helps supplement the nutrients lacking in the body, thus pica is eliminated.

Another one is a patient whose disorder is caused by some form of mental illness, possible treatment could be helping the individual build healthy behavioural patterns that may in turn help treat pica.

Also, the type of pica being experienced can help the doctor diagnose possible causes, which may help in choosing what kind of treatment that should be adopted. 

In a nutshell, it is best to go see a doctor on noticing any possible trait of pica, certain behavioural patterns and cravings might mean that one is suffering from pica especially if they have been happening for a long period of time. 

Conclusion – What Happens If You Eat Paper Towels?

From the above write up, I have exposed you guys to the dangers of eating paper towels, their possible side effects, also what causes one to eat paper towels. Now you have to work on yourself if you always have the urge to consume paper towels or some other non-food substances. 

Try to abstain from it, but if the urge is too overwhelming, then I will recommend paying your doctor a visit for a possible diagnosis. Either way, it is not safe to eat paper towels intentionally or not, it’s a bad idea.

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