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Mind and Body

Swearing May Help Ease Pain, Study Says

Uttering expletives can help people cope with pain in the short-term, but is less effective if a person curses often, according to a British study published in America's Journal of Pain.

Dr. Richard Stephens, from the research team at Keele University's School of Psychology, told the Independent there was no "recommended daily swearing allowance," and it was unclear if certain swearwords were more effective than others.

However the study, in which 71 students were asked to carry out a cold-water challenge while either repeating a swear word or a non-swear word, found that swearing increased both a person's pain tolerance and heart rate.

The study participants, who were quizzed about how much they swore in daily life, put their hand in room temperature water for three minutes to act as a control before plunging it into 41F (5C) water for as long as they could while repeating their word.

Scientists believe swearing elicits an emotional response which leads to what is known as "stress-induced analgesia."

"People who don't swear very much in daily life can keep their hand in roughly double the amount of time when they swear compared to when they don't swear," Stephens said.

"But the people who swear the most do not get any extra benefit."

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