Sept. 10, 2008 -- Singer Natalie Cole, who has hepatitis C, says she's getting
chemotherapy and will cut off all her hair next week because it's starting to
fall out due to the chemo.
"What I have is treated with chemotherapy. I have chemo every week," Cole
said in an interview shown yesterday on Entertainment Tonight. She told
her interviewer, Paula Abdul of American Idol, that the chemotherapy
makes her tired and nauseous, and that she's lost a lot of weight due to her illness, but
that she has a "great group of people" rallying around her.
What is hepatitis C? How do you get it, how is it treated, and can you
prevent it? And is chemotherapy a common treatment for hepatitis C? Here are
answers to those and other question about hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by an infection with a virus. It is a
serious disease because the liver is needed to remove toxins that build up in
the blood. Hepatitis C can cause cirrhosis and destroy the liver. It is a main
cause of liver transplants worldwide.
How do you get hepatitis C?
There are several ways to get infected with hepatitis C:
Sharing needles for injection drug use. Drug use may be how Cole got
hepatitis C. She told Entertainment Tonight that she used heroin in the early 1980s. Cole
wrote about her drug use in her 2000 autobiography, Angel on My
Shoulder; saying her drug use is long over.
Accidentally getting pricked by a needle contaminated by infected blood.
This sometimes happens to hospital workers.
Being born to a mother with hepatitis C infection.
Getting a blood transfusion from someone with hepatitis C infection. Before
1992, blood could not be tested for hepatitis C. Since 1992, all blood donated
in the U.S. gets tested for the virus. If you had a blood transfusion or organ
transplant before June 1992, ask your doctor about being tested for hepatitis
Some people on kidney dialysis have gotten hepatitis C from contamination
of the equipment.
It's possible to get hepatitis C from someone you live with if you share
items such as razors or toothbrushes that might have
had his or her blood on them.
A person can get hepatitis C from getting a tattoo or body piercing with
Rarely, a person can get hepatitis C from having unprotected sex with an
infected person. This is more likely to happen if the infected person also has
another sexually transmitted disease.
You cannot get hepatitis C from hugging or shaking hands with an infected