Bruce Lee may have died from drinking too much water, new research finds

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, November 24 — Nearly 50 years after the death of actor and martial artist Bruce Lee, a new research paper has hypothesised that the cause of death might have been due to excessive water.

This is following a study conducted by a group of kidney specialists in Spain which was published in the December 2022 edition of the Clinical Kidney Journal.

Lee died on July 20, 1973 in Hong Kong at the age of 32, with the official cause of death at that time being ruled as cerebral oedema, also known as brain swelling.

The swelling was believed to be a reaction to a substance inside a painkiller called Equagesic that was given to Lee after he felt unwell that day.

However, the new study found that the cerebral oedema was caused by hyponatremia which is abnormally low sodium concentration in one’s blood as well as several other factors that may have interfered with his kidney function.

The other factors suggest that Lee may have been consuming too much liquid at the time due to his diet which consists of juices and protein drinks, as well as the use of cannabis which caused thirst and alcohol.

"In summary, Lee had multiple risk factors predisposing to hyponatraemia resulting from interference with water homeostasis mechanisms that regulate both water intake and water excretion.

"We hypothesise that Bruce Lee died from a specific form of kidney dysfunction: the inability to excrete enough water to maintain water homeostasis, which is mainly a tubular function.

"Ironically, Lee made famous the quote ‘Be water my friend’, but excess water appears to have ultimately killed him,” the authors wrote.

The authors also highlighted that hyponatremia is frequent as it is found in up to 40 per cent of hospitalised persons and may cause death due to excessive water ingestion even in young healthy persons.

"The fact that we are 60 per cent water does not protect us from the potentially lethal consequences of drinking water at a faster rate than our kidneys can excrete excess water,” they wrote.

Lee’s death has been the subject of many speculations for decades with even some speculating that the Enter The Dragon star was assassinated by gangsters.

The latest speculation was from the 2018 book, Bruce Lee: A Life, by Matthew Polly who hypothesised that Lee had died due to heatstroke.

However, the study found that the temperatures weren’t that high on the day of his death.