Researchers suggest Bruce Lee died from drinking too much water

Bruce Lee
(Image credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Researchers have put forward a surprising new theory to explain the death of Bruce Lee.

A research paper published in the Clinical Kidney Journal suggests the legendary Enter the Dragon star died due to his "kidney's inability to excrete excess water," per Variety.

Lee died in 1973 at age 32. The circumstances of his death have long been debated, but his autopsy said the cause was cerebral oedema, the swelling of the brain. He reportedly complained of a headache before lying down and falling into a coma.

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But the new Clinical Kidney Journal paper proposes Lee died from cerebral oedema specifically "due to hyponatraemia," which according to the Mayo Clinic "occurs when the concentration of sodium in your blood is abnormally low."

The researchers outline that Lee appears to have had several risk factors predisposing him to hyponatraemia, including "high chronic fluid intake" and a history of acute kidney injury, and factors that would decrease his kidney's ability to excrete water like "chronic low solute intake." They also point out that Lee was reportedly using marijuana, which leads to increased thirst, and that there's evidence "he was repeatedly drinking water" the day he died.

"We hypothesize that Bruce Lee died from a specific form of kidney dysfunction: the inability to excrete enough water to maintain water homeostasis," the researchers conclude, noting this can lead to death in hours "if excess water intake is not matched by water excretion in urine, which is in line with the timeline of Lee's demise."

This was the latest theory to explain Lee's death after a 2018 biography suggested a heat stroke may have been the true cause.

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