Nearly five decades after martial arts icon Bruce Lee’s mysterious death, a new research paper proposes that water was the very cause of his undoing.

“The Way of the Dragon” star was at the age of 32 when he suddenly laid down on July 20, 1973, in Hong Kong. That day, Lee suffered a headache and took an Equagesic, aspirin and tranquilizer combination. The star went to sleep and never woke up.

At the time, doctors determined that the painkiller caused cerebral edema, or brain swelling due to excess fluid. But now, kidney experts from Spain think otherwise. They wrote in the Clinical Kidney Journal that hyponatremia led to his brain swelling. Hyponatremia indicates an unusually low sodium concentration in one’s blood.

When you take in an excessive amount of water and don’t match it with excretion, a person can die within hours. This, the researchers say, tallies with Bruce’s demise.

They say, “We hypothesize that Bruce Lee died from a specific form of kidney dysfunction: The inability to excrete enough water to maintain water homeostasis, which is mainly a tubular function.”

They cited several factors that back the hypothesis, including his fluid-based diet that included carrot and apple juice, marijuana consumption, which might trigger thirst, and a renal injury that might have affected the late star’s kidney function. His biographer Matthew Polly also mentioned that he drank water repeatedly on the day of his death and before symptoms emerged.

The scientists noticed that Lee’s prescription drug use might also have affected how his kidneys worked. Lee reportedly used meprobamate and aspirin, which are used to treat anxiety and pain.

The experts, therefore, reminded, “There is a need for a wider dissemination of the concept that excessive water intake can kill.”

Over the past years, Lee’s death was surrounded by many conspiracy theories. Fans went on that he was assassinated or cursed. 

Fox News added that Polly insisted he died of a heat stroke. According to Polly, Lee immediately overheated and got dizzy after walking into a small dubbing room. Lee collapsed on and off and started convulsing violently after re-entering the room.

Polly told Fox News digital, “The first collapse looked exactly like a case of heat stroke.”

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

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