Mystery Of Kung Fu Icon Bruce Lee’s Death May Finally Be Solved

Researchers propound new theory of what killed Kung Fu superstar.
Chinese-American martial arts exponent Bruce Lee (1940 - 1973), in a karate stance, early 1970s
Archive Photos/Getty Images

Although Kung Fu legend Bruce Lee’s death at the age of 32 in 1973 was blamed on swelling of the brain from painkillers, many theories were propounded that his actual cause of death remained a mystery, including theories that he was murdered by gangsters or died from heatstroke.

Now a team of scientific researchers, having examined publicly available evidence, has reached a new and startling conclusion of what actually killed the martial arts superstar, who popularized the motto, “Be water, my friend.”

Too much water.

“We now propose, based on an analysis of publicly available information, that the cause of death was cerebral oedema due to hyponatraemia,” the team of researchers write. “In other words, we propose that the kidney’s inability to excrete excess water killed Bruce Lee.”

Matthew Polly, who wrote “Bruce Lee, A Life,” claimed Lee used marijuana heavily and drank copious amounts of water the day he died, The Daily Mail reported.

The researchers note numerous risk factors from which Less suffered that may have contributed to his death from drinking excess water, including high marijuana use, which increases thirst, as well as factors that inhibit the kidneys from excreting water, such as prescription drug, alcohol, chronic low solute intake, or a past history of acute kidney injury and exercise.

The researchers dismiss the theory that Lee died from hypersensitivity to Equagesic, writing, “Hypersensitivity to the components of Equagesic (aspirin and meprobamate) was identified as the official cause of death. However, Lee had taken this drug before and on the day of his death, he took it AFTER he felt unwell, already having symptoms that may be explained by cerebral oedema (i.e. headache) and cerebral oedema would not be expected to be the only necropsy finding if indeed hypersensitivity to Equagesic was the cause of death.”

They dismiss Polly’s claim of heatstroke as cause of death by acknowledging that Lee had his axillary sweat glands removed a month before his death, but it was “unlikely” axillary sweat gland removal alone could facilitate heatstroke,” adding, “Overall, the time-course, ability to sweat and lack of extreme weather and of reports by witnesses of excessive heat or skin temperature or dry skin despite a warm environment argue against heatstroke.”

“On the evening that Lee died, Polly repeatedly refers to water intake during the day, including just before Lee became noticeably ill,” the researchers note. “The excess fluid intake appears to have become a habit for Lee.”

“Ironically, Lee made famous the quote ‘Be water my friend,’ but excess water appears to have ultimately killed him,” the researchers conclude.

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