Bruce Lee May Have Died From ‘Excessive Water Intake,’ Researchers Hypothesize

The study sees kidney-focused researchers in Spain taking another look at the death of Bruce Lee, whose death at age 32 has long been questioned.

Bruce Lee is seen in a publicity still

Image via Getty/Michael Ochs Archives

Bruce Lee is seen in a publicity still

The cause of Bruce Lee’s death has been given another look by kidney-focused researchers.

As spotted by the Los Angeles Times andVariety in recent days, among other outlets, a paper published in a recent edition of Clinical Kidney Journal sees researchers based in Spain hypothesizing that Lee died due to “a specific form of kidney dysfunction.” Namely, researchers have proposed that Lee may have died as a result of an “inability to excrete enough water to maintain water homeostasis.”

The absence of stability in this part of the body’s larger system, per the paper, can cause issues including “death within hours” under certain conditions. Here’s more, straight from the paper itself:

“Given that hyponatraemia is frequent, as is found in up to 40% of hospitalized persons … and may cause death due to excessive water ingestion even in young healthy persons, there is a need for a wider dissemination of the concept that excessive water intake can kill.”

According to participating researchers, evidence of Lee possibly having been predisposed to hyponatraemia included taking in a large amount of fluids, factors that contributed to an increase of thirst, and and other factors (including a low solute intake) that could have been shown to negatively impact the kidney’s usual water-expelling functions.

Due to Lee having (in the opinion of the authors, at least) been predisposed to hyponatremia, researchers have further hypothesized that the long-celebrated actor and martial artist didn’t drink enough water to have triggered the condition solely on his own. Instead, it was (possibly) a combination of the aforementioned factors.

In the past, Lee’s sudden death in 1973 at the age of 32 has been linked to an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the brain, also known as a brain edema. In the years since, Lee’s cause of death has remained a source of continued questions and various theories. Lee’s death was discussed at length in Matthew Polly’s 2018 book Bruce Lee: A Life, which was met with acclaim upon its release.

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