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No drugs in system? Mystery of Amy Winehouse's death continues

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August 23, 2011|By Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times / for the Booster Shots blog
  • Toxicology tests showed there were no illegal substances in Amy Winehouse's body when she died last month at age 27, her spokesman said Tuesday. In a statement, he added that alcohol was present, but that it could not be determined what part if any it played in her death.
Toxicology tests showed there were no illegal substances in Amy Winehouse's… (Toby Melville / Reuters )

Toxicology reports show Amy Winehouse did not have drugs in her system, according to a statement by the "Back to Black" singer's family. The results, which have not yet been publicly released, indicated that there was alcohol present in her body at the time of death, but it's unclear in what amount.

The announcement throws even greater mystery over the cause of the soul singer's untimely death on July 23. Some had theorized that the "Rehab" singer, who had struggled with drug problems, may have succumbed to an overdose.

But Winehouse had reportedly been seeking treatment for alcohol issues and her family had earlier said that she may have gone "cold turkey" and perhaps died as a result of detoxing too quickly.  

Alcohol withdrawal is a condition that affects far too many people who try to go cold turkey without seeking medical counsel, health writer Jeannine Stein reports. At some point the brain becomes dependent on alcohol and reacts badly when its supply is cut off, raising the risk of stroke and heart attack.

And though alcohol was detected in Winehouse's system, it's not clear whether it played any role in her death -- or whether the problem was that it was too much, or too little.

Other medical issues may have played a role, too; father Mitch Winehouse in 2008 indicated that the singer was showing signs of emphysema -- a rare disease in the twenty-something set; it more often affects smokers starting in their 40s -- and added that she had suffered from an irregular heartbeat.

But until October, when the results of an inquest are due, it's unlikely the cause of the songstress's death will be any less of a mystery.

Follow me on Twitter @LAT_aminakhan.

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