The unforgettable actor, director, screenwriter and martial arts teacher was just 32 when he passed away in July 1973 from cerebral edema, as revealed by an autopsy. This swelling was thought to be caused by a reaction of Bruce Lee’s body to the painkiller Equagesic that the actor was taking.
But that may not be the whole story. A team of scientists believe the brain swelling was caused by hyponatremia – an electrolyte disorder caused by a lack of sodium in the blood that disrupts the body’s electrolyte balance in an unstable, potentially life-threatening state.
Several factors suggest that the famous actor may have been consuming extremely high amounts of fluids at the time due to his diet, which consisted of a lot of fluids, but also due to his use of marijuana, which also causes weight gain of thirst.
“In other words, we think that the inability of his kidneys to process excess water killed Bruce Lee,” the scientists wrote in the article published in the Clinical Kidney Journal. On the day of his death, he reportedly had a headache and dizziness after taking cannabis and water.
“In summary, Li had multiple risk factors predisposing to hyponatremia as a result of interference with the mechanisms of water homeostasis that regulate water intake and excretion. Tragically, Li, who has a famous saying, “Be like water, friend,” seems to have eventually died of water,” the researchers write.