Singing star Cole has Hepatitis C

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Grammy winner Natalie Cole has been diagnosed with Hepatitis C, a liver disease doctors say likely stemmed from her past years of drug abuse, her publicist said in a statement yesterday.

According to the statement, the 58-year-old singer was diagnosed with the disease when she went in to her doctor for a routine check up. The liver disease is caused by contact with infected blood.

“I’ve been so fortunate to have learned so much from my past experiences,” Cole said in a statement, according to The Associated Press.

“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.”

Cole rose to fame in the 1970s with a string of pop and R&B chart toppers.

The daughter of the late Nat ‘King’ Cole, Natalie Cole suffered years of drug addiction, including an arrest for possession of heroin.

In her autobiography, Natalie Cole admitted to using LSD, heroin and crack cocaine. She has been sober since a stint in rehab in 1983.

Cole has been seeking treatment for the illness at the UCLA/Cedars Sinai Medical Centre.

According to Dr. Graham Woolf, UCLA’s Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, Cole is having a “terrific response to her medication and is now virus negative.”

“This gives her an increased chance of cure,” he said, according to AP.

“But, she has also suffered significant side effects from the anti-viral medicine, which is the only FDA authorized treatment for hepatitis C. Her side effects include fatigue, muscle aches and dehydration but she is recovering from these.”

Cole is due to release the follow up to her Grammy-winning, multi-platinum selling Unforgettable, a series of duets with her late father, in September.

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