What the ****! It's official . . . swearing is good for you

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WAYNE Rooney was fined for doing it on television, while Gordon Ramsay and Malcolm Tucker can't get through a show on the box without indulging.

But all should heed new research which advises easing up on the swearing and saving up the expletives until they are really needed.

According to a new study, letting fly with a foul-mouthed volley can be a powerful painkiller, but only if you don't overdo it at other times.

Research to be unveiled at the British Psychological Society's annual conference in Glasgow next month shows that turning the air blue can have a "pain- lessening effect" after injury.

In an experiment by Keele University's School of Psychology, 71 young adults were divided into two groups - those who swore less than ten times a day and those who used up to 40 swear words daily.

They were asked to dip their hands into hot water of 25C and then cold water at 5C, while swearing repeatedly.

When the exercise was repeated, the volunteers used a harmless word rather than swearing. Those who usually swear less often were able to withstand the icy water while swearing for up to 45 seconds longer than when they did not swear.

Dr Richard Stephens, the lead researcher, said: "Swearing provokes an emotional fight-or-flight response in the face of stress. It generates the pain- killing endorphins hormone.

"This study shows that if people want to benefit from swearing they should save it up for when it really matters - when they are in genuine pain."

The regular swearers could only withstand the test for ten seconds longer while swearing, than when using less offensive language.

Researchers said the test established a link between swearing and an increase in pain tolerance. The accelerated heart rates of the students repeating the swear word may indicate an increase in aggression.

But Dr Stephens warned that swearing has connotations with rowdy behaviour and that its use in health care would cause more problems than it would solve.

David Falconer, director of Pain Association Scotland, said: "Advocating swearing in the healthcare setting would offend some Mary Whitehouse types." However, according to the association, using foul language could help people tolerate painful examinations and injections.

Chairperson Margaret Watt said: "As long as doctors and patients understand the pain relieving qualities of swearing it would be acceptable to be used by patients to help them through excruciating pain."

She added: "In that context it is not offensive. It should not, how-ever, be directed personally at the doctors, or used routinely through consultations."