Curvaceous women are more sensitive to pain than others, scientists believe. They said this vulnerability makes them even more attractive to men.

In a study entitled the Curse of Curves, researchers took the measurements of 96 students. These were used to calculate the women's waist to hip ratios and the men's shoulder to hip ratios.

A low waist to hip ratio is a sign of a curvaceous figure and is often equated with beauty. Similarly, a man with broad shoulders and narrow hips is generally thought of as being more handsome.

The men and women were then timed as they held one hand in a bath of uncomfortably cold water. They were also asked how much pain they were in while video cameras filmed their facial expressions.

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The curvaceous women felt the most pain, the journal Human Nature reports.

The University of New Mexico researchers believe sensitivity to pain is a sign of vulnerability and so should make females more attractive to prospective mates.

The study also revealed broad shouldered men to be able to withstand the most pain.

Lead researcher Jacob Vigil said: "We have shown for the first time that sexually attractive features of body shape which signal attractive body shapes to the opposite sex are associated with pain."

He said one possible explanation was that beautiful women use their looks to seek attention when times are tough.

- Daily Mail