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Natalie Cole diagnosed with hepatitis C

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

Hepatitis C is a liver disease spread through contact with infected blood. The statement said the disease was revealed during a routine examination and was likely caused by her drug use years ago.

"I've been so fortunate to have learned so much from my past experiences," said Cole. "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, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at UCLA/Cedars Sinai Medical Center, said that Cole has had a "terrific response to her medication and is now virus negative."

"This gives her an increased chance of cure," he said. "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, 58, the daughter of jazz legend Nat King Cole, has sold millions of records over her long career. She is due to release "Still Unforgettable," the follow-up to 1991's Grammy-winning, multi-platinum CD "Unforgettable ... With Love," on which she remade some of her father's classics, in September.

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