A new study published in the Clinical Kidney Journal has suggested that Bruce Lee’s death was caused by the martial arts legend’s “chronic high fluid intake” or simply his tendency to drink too much water.
The paper, authored by a group of nephrologists from the Autonomous University of Madrid, suggests that the cerebral edema that led to the 32-year-old actor’s sudden death on July 20, 1973 was likely due to hyponatremia, or “the inability to excrete.” was enough water to maintain water homeostasis.” Lee would have been a plausible candidate for the condition because the authors listed several risk factors, including his fluid-rich diet with juices, increased alcohol and marijuana intake, and a history of renal dysfunction as a result of injury.
Bruce Lee’s official cause of death was an oversensitivity to Equagesic, a painkiller he was taking at a friend’s home in Hong Kong after suffering from headaches and dizziness. The report noted that Lee had previously used the drug without incident and had felt unwell before taking it, but according to previous witnesses, he drank a glass of water before any symptoms developed.
The paper also examined a more recent theory that claimed Lee died of heat stroke before landing his final blow in the conclusion, which reads: “Ironically, Lee made the quote ‘Be water my friend’ famous, but excess water seems to be ultimately killing him.”
In 2020, Lee’s quote “Be water my friend” inspired the RZA song “Be Like Water,” which formed the soundtrack of a documentary about the Enter the Dragon icon.