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(How) Does the human digestive system process petroleum jelly, aka petrolatum?

(How) Does the human digestive system process petroleum jelly, aka petrolatum?



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Does the human digestive system processes petroleum jelly? In other words, does it pass through the digestive system without any interaction, or is it absorbed and/or metabolized?


There are controversial case reports about systemic absorption of paraffin used for constipation. These reports mention systemic effects of paraffin absorption and one of them report liquid paraffin accumulations in abdominal visceral organs. (full text article about paraffin)

Liquid paraffin is indigestible and is absorbed only to a limited extent following ingestion.

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As inert substances the ingested mineral oils mostly are excreted intact in feces and to some degree in urine. However, some absorption form the small intestine has been observed (Stryker 1941). Using radiolabeled mineral oil, it was established that the amount absorbed in rat was appr. 1.5 % (Ebert et al. 1966).

(full text article)


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