Page last updated at 16:15 GMT, Wednesday, 16 July 2008 17:15 UK

Cole diagnosed with hepatitis C

Natalie Cole
Cole documented her drug use in her 2000 autobiography

Grammy-winning singer Natalie Cole has been diagnosed with hepatitis C, her publicist has confirmed in a statement.

The disease was discovered when the 58-year-old daughter of crooner Nat King Cole went for a routine examination.

The statement said it was likely she caught the virus through past drug use, news agency Associated Press reported.

Hepatitis C is a virus spread through contact with infected blood which can cause fatal liver problems and can remain undetected for years.

Cole was addicted to LSD, cocaine and heroin before a long stay in rehab in 1984 which she documented her autobiography.

'Fortunate'

"I've been so fortunate to have learned so much from my past experiences," Cole said in the statement announcing her diagnosis.

"I am embraced by the love and support of my family and friends; I am committed to my belief in myself and in my abiding faith to meet this challenge with a heartfelt optimism and determination.

"This is how I intend to deal with this current challenge in my life."

Dr Graham Woolf, Cole's doctor at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, said: "Natalie has had a terrific response to her medication and is now virus negative - this gives her an increased chance of cure."

He added that Cole was recovering from side effects of the anti-viral medicine she is taking, including fatigue, muscle aches and dehydration.

A spokesman said the treatment was not expected to interfere with the release of Cole's new album.

Still Unforgettable, the follow-up to 1991's Grammy-winning, Unforgettable...With Love, on which she remade some of her father's classic songs, is due for release in September.

The majority of hepatitis C sufferers are drug users sharing injecting equipment but it can also be transmitted through shared razors, body and ear piercing.




SEE ALSO
Natalie Cole to divorce husband
04 Feb 04 |  Entertainment
Hepatitis C
25 Oct 05 |  Medical notes

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