Is it okay to eat paper?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “is it okay to eat paper?”. We will also discuss the condition that makes you want to eat paper and the health risks of eating paper.

Is it okay to eat paper?

It is not okay to eat paper even though the paper is made up of cellulose, a harmless compound found in plants that is not harmful to humans. 

The digestive system of humans cannot digest cellulose because it lacks the enzyme needed in the process which can cause digestive issues.

What is the cause that makes you want to eat paper?

People with Pica disorder or known as Xylophagia is an eating disorder that makes them consume substances like pencils, tree bark, and paper. 

There are different types of Xylophagia such as geophagia, pagophagia, and amylophagia. This condition can affect children, teens, and adults including pregnant women.

People with pica disorder have compulsive urges to eat things that have no nutritional value and are not edible such as paper. 

Serious health consequences are on the horizon for people with Pica disorder, since they can get lead poisoning or digestive tract disorders.

Many cases of Xylophagia are temporary and would go away after some time but some may be very serious and severe which may be linked to the deficiency of zinc and iron. It can also occur because of other disorders like Kleine-Levin syndrome, intellectual disabilities, and schizophrenia.

What are the health risks associated with eating paper?

Eating paper can cause a lot of negative effects on the human body which include but are not limited to stomach pain, bloody stool, constipation, bowel problems, lead poisoning, intestinal blockage and tearing, and tooth problems.

Choking on paper can be inevitable. Vomiting, perforation, gastric obstruction, or even retention of faeces to toxic levels, where the sweat and breath smell like faeces are also the effects of eating paper.

Can you eat paper with ink?

The ink in the newspaper is made up of toxins that pose a threat to human health. It is not okay to ingest ink of any sort as it can cause many health issues. Eating paper with ink may not pose a life-threatening impact but it will definitely make you feel sick. 

Eating paper with or without ink is not recommended as it is not natural to eat paper. Eating paper can have a bad impact on the digestive tract causing digestive tract blockages and constipation which can lead to other health problems.

How to stop eating paper?

Eating paper and other inedible items are caused due to a condition called xylophagia or Pica which is associated with deficiencies of iron and zinc. 

In order to make the person stop eating paper, the deficiencies should be treated. Fixing the deficiencies fixes the problem but the interesting thing is that paper does not contain either of the deficient minerals.

It is in the best interest of the person with the pica condition to consult a doctor to figure out what is causing it and treating the underlying condition can cure the paper eating condition.

What is paper made up of? 

Paper is made up of cellulose fibres that are derived from wood, rags, grasses, or other vegetables. The cellulose is mechanically or chemically processed in water and is drained through a fine mesh leaving the fibre evenly distributed on the surface to form a thin sheet which is then pressed and dried.

The chemical composition of the paper consists of 70% cellulose and 30% of chemicals which are mainly loading and filling materials such as calcium carbonate, clay, and titanium oxide.


In this brief guide, we answered the query, “is it okay to eat paper?”. We also discussed the condition that makes you want to eat paper and the health risks of eating paper.

I hope you find this blog useful. If you have any questions, please let us know.


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