Just weeks after Whitney Houston went back into rehab for drug and alcohol abuse, the National Enquirer reports that she’s fighting another serious battle: with emphysema. According to the tabloid, the 47-year-old singer is in the early stages of the lung disease and has been told by doctors that she must quit smoking immediately.
“She’s developed emphysema — and her doctors are warning her she’ll die a horrible death,” says the Enquirer’s source.
Reportedly, the responsibility for restoring Houston’s health has fallen on her 18-year-old daughter, Bobbi Kristina — who is just out of rehab herself. Poor kid.
It’s hard to say if The National Enquirer is a reliable source, since they have a bit of a hit-or-miss record. (Their most notable hit: breaking the news of the John Edwards-Rielle Hunter affair.) But the emphysema diagnosis would explain Whitney’s recent series of “respiratory infections,” as well as the shortness of breath she’s exhibited during her comeback tour.
If Houston does have emphysema, her comeback may have to come to an abrupt end: The condition is long-term and incurable, and would make it difficult for Houston to exert herself in any way (which we’d imagine would include belting out “I Will Always Love You”).
The real tragedy is that someone blessed with Houston’s singing voice would become a heavy smoker in the first place. The voice is a fragile instrument, and we hear all the time about singers struggling to keep theirs healthy. Adele has postponed her U.S. tour dates due to laryngitis, and Shania Twain admitted last month that she lost her voice to a condition called dysphonia, probably brought on by stress. We can only hope that other aspiring singers learn from Houston’s mistakes, and don’t squander their talents for any kind of addiction.