Amy Winehouse: Emphysema at 24 Very Rare, Experts Say

A week after collapsing at her north London home, British singer Amy Winehouse is facing another health crisis.

This time the Grammy-winning artist is battling the early stages of emphysema brought on by smoking crack cocaine and cigarettes, her father said in an interview published in the U.K.’s Sunday Mirror.

"The doctors have told her if she goes back to smoking drugs, it won't just ruin her voice, it will kill her," Mitch Winehouse told the Mirror. "There are nodules around the chest and dark marks. She has 70 percent lung capacity."

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Smoking cigarettes is the most common cause of emphysema, in which the walls between the air sacs within the lungs lose their ability to stretch and recoil, according to the American Lung Association. When this happens, it causes air to be trapped in the air sacs impairing the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide.

Symptoms include:

— Shortness of breath

— Chronic cough

— Mucus production

— Limited exercise tolerance

While most emphysema patients are older than 45 and have a long history of smoking, the disease can also present itself in younger adults.

According to the ALA, this is due to an absence of a “lung protector” protein known as alpha1-antitrypsin (ATT). Symptoms of ATT deficiency usually appear in people between the ages of 32 and 41-years-old.

Winehouse is just 24.

“Someone her age should not be having emphysema for any reason unless she has does have a congenital disorder like ATT,” Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist and internist at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, told "We don't know if she has this of course."

But, he added her lifestyle choices could have attributed to this diagnosis.

“She could be getting emphysema from chronic smoking of crack or enough episodes of acute crack lung,” said Horovitz, who has not examined Winehouse. “Combined with cigarette smoking... this could accelerate the process of emphysema. This lung damage and loss of lung tissue is permanent."

Winehouse was taken to a London hospital for tests last Monday. She remained there all week.

She is still scheduled to sing at a concert in London on Friday celebrating the 90th birthday of Nelson Mandela, the South African Nobel Prize-winner, and plans to take part in the Glastonbury music festival the following day.

Her father said it would be good for his daughter to perform.

"When she's been inactive work-wise then that's when the problems really start. The doctors have said that medically there isn't any reason why she can't do Glastonbury," the paper quoted him as saying.

He also pleaded with her drug-taking friends to stay away from her.

"What hope does she have if people are taking drugs around her," he said.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD is a combination of emphysema and chronic bronchitis, according to Horovitz. It claims the lives of more than 120,000 Americans each year making it the fourth biggest killer in the U.S.

Horovitz had this simple advice.

“Don’t start smoking anything,” he said. “And if you do smoke – stop.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Click here to read the full report in the U.K.’s Sunday Mirror.