Doctors believe that Bruce Lee may have died from drinking too much water

(WTVO) — Medical researchers believe they have finally found the cause of Bruce Lee’s mysterious death almost 50 years ago.

Lee, a global phenomenon, was awaiting the release of his first major Hollywood film, Enter the Dragon, when he died in 1973 of cerebral edema, or cerebral edema.

Lee was known as one of the fittest people on Earth with a low fat to muscle ratio, so his death caught the world by surprise.

Before the release of Enter the Dragon, Lee arranged a meeting with James Bond actor George Lazenby to discuss the upcoming project. During lunch, he complained of a headache and retired to his hotel room, took painkillers and was later found dead.

The cause was determined to be cerebral edema. At the time, doctors thought a reaction to the painkiller might have been responsible.

Now, almost 50 years later, as reported Clinical Journal of Kidneyresearchers believe that excessive water consumption and previous kidney damage contributed to his death.

“Ironically, Lee was famous for his quote, ‘Be water my friend,’ but excess water seems to have killed him in the end,” the researchers wrote.

Doctors believe that Hyponatremia, a low concentration of sodium in the blood that can be caused by too much water in the body, may have been the real cause of his death.

Investigators say Lee was at risk for hyponatremia because of high fluid intake, marijuana or prescription drug use, or alcohol, and a history of kidney injury.

“We hypothesize that the inability of the kidneys to excrete excess water killed Bruce Lee,” the researchers wrote.

Lee’s death shocked the world, creating rumors that he was killed by Triad thugs, a jealous lover or the victim of a curse.

“In conclusion, we suggest that Bruce Lee died of a particular form of kidney dysfunction: the inability to excrete sufficient water to maintain water homeostasis, which is primarily a tubular function,” the researchers wrote. “This can lead to hyponatremia, cerebral edema, and death within hours if excess water intake is not accompanied by urinary excretion of water, consistent with Lee’s time of death.”

Lee is survived by his wife Linda Lee-Caldwell, daughter Shannon and son Brendan. Brandon Lee was killed when an improperly cleaned gun fired into his stomach on the set of The Crow in 1993.


In accordance with Mayo Clinicsymptoms hyponatremia can range from nausea/vomiting, headache, fatigue and muscle weakness. More serious symptoms include seizures and coma.

If you think you have hyponatremia, it is recommended that you see your doctor.

Those at increased risk (due to age, medications, etc.) should consult their physician about possible preventive measures, which may include matching water intake with water loss for balanced hydration. Additionally, doctors may recommend drinking electrolyte sports drinks like Gatorade or Powerade instead of water to refuel during intense exercise.

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