Martial Arts film icon Bruce Lee may have died from drinking excessive amounts of water, a new study has revealed.
The Enter The Dragon star, who propelled Martial Arts into the mainstream, died in July 1973 at the age of just 32 after suffering a cerebral oedema (a swelling of the brain).
The swelling was thought to be a reaction to the tranquilliser meprobamate, which made up part of a painkiller Lee - who famously said “Be water my friend” - was given called Equagesic.
However, a team of researchers believe that the oedema is more likely to have been caused by too much water consumption.
All types of knowledge ultimately mean self-knowledge. pic.twitter.com/GKxzI2MHCn
— Bruce Lee (@brucelee) November 14, 2022
"We propose that the kidney’s inability to excrete excess water killed Bruce Lee,” the scientists wrote in the paper published in the Clinical Kidney Journal.
Several factors suggest that the star may have been consuming unusually high quantities at the time due to his diet, which consisted of several juices and protein drinks, and the use of marijuana, which may cause increased thirst.
“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,” the researchers wrote.
Hyponatremia is a condition where sodium levels in one’s blood are lower than normal. In many cases, too much water consumption dilutes sodium levels and can lead to loss of too much sodium.
“We hypothesise that Bruce Lee died from a specific form of kidney dysfunction: the inability to excrete enough water to maintain water homeostasis,” the researchers continued.
“Ironically, Lee made famous the quote ‘Be water my friend’, but excess water appears to have ultimately killed him.”
On the day of his death, he reportedly experienced headache and dizziness in the evening after smoking cannabis and drinking water. He then took the Equagesic and was found unresponsive two hours later.