Hyponatremia - the water overdose that could have killed Bruce Lee, new study finds

A recent study by the University of Aberdeen, published by the journal Science, revealed that - contrary to what was believed for years - your body does not always need to ingest 2 liters of water a day: everything will depend on the foods you ate, age, the region where they live and the type of lifestyle they lead - sedentary or active.

Research has shown that the amount should range from 1.3 to 1.8 liters for most people, but there is no specific number, i.e. it's not a rule. More than 5,000 people from 23 countries, aged between 8 days and 96 years, participated in the tests.

They used a technique with hydrogen and oxygen in traceable isotopes - which are atoms that differ - so it was possible to determine the amount of water eliminated by each analyzed individual.


However, it has been proven that the highest consumption of water is among people aged 20 to 35 years.

Science says it doesn't have a certain amount, but there is a limit. And it is this crossing of limits that researchers believe, today, in a new hypothesis, to have killed Bruce Lee.

Drinking too much water can kill you and this could have happened to Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee's death has been plagued by speculation and conspiracy theories for years, as the most famous martial arts actor of the 70's died suddenly at the age of 32.

The official report says that Lee died of cerebral edema due to hypersensitivity to Equagesic (aspirin for headache) - his brain was swollen when the autopsy was done, but stories like poisoning by the Chinese, Italian or American mafia and sunstroke were raised, but all refuted.

The first due to lack of evidence: absence of physical injuries and poisoning in the autopsy result; and in the second theory the researchers said that “removal of the axillary gland is not sufficient to disturb thermoregulation”. Lee had surgery to reduce the sweating.

Months before he died, Bruce Lee felt severe headaches and, during the filming of the film Enter the Dragon, he went into convulsions. Upon arriving at the hospital, it was found that he had a small cranial pressure: after a few days he was released. But after other bouts of pain and seizures, he ended up passing away.

But a new study from the Clinical Kidney Journal says that Bruce Lee died from drinking too much water, which caused hyponatremia.


Hyponatremia happens when there is an imbalance in the concentration of minerals in the blood: this means electrolytes such as chloride, sodium, bicarbonate and potassium - they help maintain the balance of nerve and muscle functions.

The abusive intake of water dilutes these minerals to very low levels and this can cause problems such as nausea, headaches, inertia, seizures and even death.

It is known that Bruce Lee was adept at liquid diets, but at first the possibility of hyponatremia was not considered. The research points out that there are reports that the actor felt dizzy and had a headache after drinking water hours before his death.

“In conclusion, we hypothesize that Bruce Lee died of a specific form of renal dysfunction: the inability to excrete enough water to maintain water homeostasis, which is primarily a tubular function. This can lead to hyponatremia, cerebral edema and death within hours if excess water intake is not compensated for by excretion of water in the urine, which is in line with the timeline of Lee's death," the study said.


How many liters of water are needed to have hyponatremia?

To have a control of the amount of water our body needs, some doctors suggest paying attention to the color of the urine, if it turns yellowish to an orange tone, it means that your water intake is not being enough: drink more!

Our kidney is capable of filtering up to 1 liter of water per hour, above 3 liters there is a risk of intoxication and hyponatremia.

Image: Internet, Pixabay


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