Cursing may help ease pain

July 13, 2009 2:12:47 PM PDT
It may not sound pretty, but there could be a real therapeutic reason people swear when they hurt themselves. Belting out a curse word may actually help ease the pain by sparking an emotional and physical response.

British researchers had 64 volunteers put their hands in ice cold water while repeating a swear word of their choice. Then they did it again using less colorful language.

The results in the journal Neuro Report show the volunteers were able to keep their hands in the icy water longer when swearing.

Why the link exists isn't clear, but researchers say heart rates went up when the volunteers used profanity. That could indicate an increase in aggression leading to a decrease in perception of pain.