UPDATE: 水 Bruce Lee Famously Said “Be Water, My Friend.” But a Group of Kidney Specialists in Spain Think the Accumulation of too Much Water May Have Inadvertently Killed Him

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7/10/23 — Bruce Lee was one of the most famous Martial Artists, if not the most famous. He tragically died in Hong Kong on July 20th, 1973, one month before the release of his biggest and most famous movie: Enter the Dragon. Bruce Lee was almost as famous for his enigmatic Eastern philosophical teachings as for his phenomenal martial arts skills. In the above video clip, Bruce Lee delivers one of his most famous quotes, “Be water, my friend.” in his appearance as Le Tsung on the first episode of the first season of the TV show Longstreet, titled The Way of the Intercepting Fist, that aired on September 16, 1971. In the episode Bruce Lee was essentially playing himself and teaching his Jeet Kune Do.

“Empty your mind, Be formless, shapeless, like water. Now if you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. Put it into a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow, or creep or drip or crash. Be water, my friend.”

— Bruce Lee

A Group of Kidney Specialists from Spain Hypothesize that Bruce Lee was Killed by Accumulating Too Much Water in his System, Swelling his Brain

Bruce Lee died in Hong Kong on July 20th, 1973. The official cause of death was listed as cerebral oedema (swelling of the brain due to excess fluid) caused by hypersensitivity to Equagesic (Aspirin/meprobamate pain killer). In 2022 a group of kidney specialists revisited all publicly available data surrounding Bruce Lee’s death and they came up with an alternate hypothesis. They think that Bruce Lee actually died of cerebral oedema due to hyponatraemia (too much water accumulating in his system that his kidneys couldn’t sufficiently excrete).

Two months before his death, Bruce Lee had been treated for an earlier incidence of cerebral oedema that caused a seizure and was not linked to equagesics. He had also used equagesics before without incident, so equagesics is unlikely the cause of his cerebral oedema on the day he died. The authors of the report suspect hyponatraemia was a more likely cause of the cerebral oedema. They list the following details supporting their hypothesis.

  • On the day he died, he reportedly used marijuana which can increase thirst.
  • He complained of dizziness and headache after drinking water.
  • He only took the equagesic after he felt ill, not before, so that is unlikely the cause.
  • Blood tests showed he had acute kidney injury, which could impair the kidneys’ ability to excrete water.
  • He was known to be a heavy water drinker and on that day was noticed drinking water more than others present that day.
  • Bruce was on a fluid based diet and had lost 20 lbs over two years. This unbalanced diet increases water intake and decreases needed solutes, both risk factors for hyponatraemia.
  • His alcohol intake had increased leading up to the time of his death, and high alcohol consumption can also be a risk factor for hyponatraemia.
  • Lee was taking phenytoin, Doloxene and diuretics which can be risk factors for hyponatraemia.
  • Bruce’s heavy exercise, while not typically a singular trigger, on top of all the other risk factors could have also contributed to hyponatraemia.

So while it is useful in the martial arts, and life, to “Be like water,” it may not be so advisable to “Be water,” to such an extent that it risks your life itself.

The necropsy showed cerebral oedema. A prior episode was diagnosed as cerebral oedema 2 months earlier. We now propose, based on an analysis of publicly available information, that the cause of death was cerebral oedema due to hyponatraemia. In other words, we propose that the kidney’s inability to excrete excess water killed Bruce Lee. In this regard, Lee had multiple risk factors for hyponatraemia that may have included high chronic fluid intake, factors that acutely increase thirst (marijuana) and factors that decrease the ability of the kidneys to excrete water by either promoting secretion of antidiuretic hormone (ADH) or interfering with water excretion mechanisms in kidney tubules: prescription drugs (diuretics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, opioids, anti-epileptic drugs), alcohol, chronic low solute intake, a past history of acute kidney injury and exercise.

— Who killed Bruce Lee? The hyponatraemia hypothesis

Download Who Killed Bruce Lee; The Hyponatraemia Hypothesis.


Lost Interview of Bruce Lee on the Pierre Berton Show 1971 Less Than Two Years Before His Untimely Death

Bruce Lee revisits his quote: “Be water, my friend,” in a “lost” interview when Bruce Lee went on the Pierre Berton Show on Dec. 9, 1971, a few months after his appearance on Longstreet and less than two years before his death. The full interview is embedded below and includes other fascinating comments including his description of Tai Chi practices as also being related to the constant flow of water.

That is part of Chinese boxing. It’s kind of a slow form of exercise. It is called Tai Chi Chuan. It’s more than exercise for the elderly. Not so much for the younger. Hand wise, it’s very slow, and you push it out, but all the time you are keeping the continuity going, bending, stretching, everything. You just keep it moving. To them the idea is — “Running water never grows stale.” So, you’ve got to just keep on flowing.

UPDATE: How CAN you die from taking on too much water? As doctors rule that Bruce Lee may have been killed by drinking too much H2O, we reveal OTHERS who’ve died (or come close) due to over-hydration

Drinking two litres of water a day is supposed to cleanse your body, give you energy and help with fatigue.

But there are fresh warnings today that staying too hydrated could have critical consequences. 

Almost 50 years after he passed away, doctors have now claimed that Kung fu expert Bruce Lee’s mysterious death could have been caused by drinking too much water.

The martial arts supremo-cum-Hollywood star died aged 32 in the summer of 1973 while in Hong Kong.

An autopsy at the time showed Bruce had died from brain swelling, which doctors blamed on him taking painkillers.

Several other theories — such as assassination and heatstroke — had been suggested as his cause of death.

But researchers now say his excessive fluid intake may have caused him to develop hyponatraemia. 

Also known as water intoxication, hyponatraemia develops as a result of there being too much water in the body — which can cause swelling on the brain.

MailOnline can reveal other people who have died — or almost died — as a result of hyponatraemia.

— Daily Mail UK

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