Scientists from Keele University found that letting forth a volley of foul language can have a powerful painkilling effect, especially for people who do not normally use expletives.
To test the theory, student volunteers placed their hands in a bucket of ice cold water while swearing repeatedly. They then repeated the exercise but, instead of swearing, used a harmless phrase instead.
Researchers found that the students were able to keep their hands submerged in the icy water for longer when repeating the swear word - establishing a link between swearing and an increase in pain tolerance. They also found that the pain-numbing effect was four times more likely to work in the volunteers who did not normally use bad language.
The team believes the pain-lessening effect occurs because swearing triggers the ''fight or flight'' response.