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Cocaine a factor in Whitney Houston drowning, says LA coroner

Whitney Houston drowned but heart disease and chronic cocaine use were contributing factors, according to the Los Angeles Coroner's Office. The exact amount of cocaine in Whitney Houston's body will be revealed in two weeks.

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More recently, Amy Winehouse's duet "Body and Soul" with Tony Bennett earned them a Grammy Award, months after the singer died unexpectedly in London. An inquest determined she died from an accidental alcohol overdose.

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A spokesman for Sony Pictures did not return an email message Thursday seeking comment on whether Houston's autopsy results would alter marketing of "Sparkle."

It will be a couple weeks before the exact amount of cocaine in Houston's system is released, officials said.

The drug has been known to cause damage to the heart and could have cause Houston's death, said Dr. Michael Fishbein, professor of pathology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He had no role in the investigation.

He said a likely scenario was that Houston's cocaine use interfered with the normal function of her heart.

"There's no reason to drown in a bathtub unless you're incapacitated," Fishbein said.

Houston's friend and collaborators said after her death that they didn't believe she was still abusing drugs, and she described as being a complete professional on the "Sparkle" set.

Houston, a sensation from her first, eponymous album in 1985, was one of the world's best-selling artists from the mid-1980s to the late 1990s, turning out such hits as "I Wanna Dance With Somebody," ''How Will I Know," ''The Greatest Love of All" and "I Will Always Love You."

She was buried last month in a New Jersey cemetery next to her father after an emotional four-hour funeral service that was attended by friends, family and superstars such as Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Alicia Keys, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Hudson and Roberta Flack


Associated Press writers Nekesa Mumbi Moody in New York and Alicia Chang in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

IN PICTURES: Remembering Whitney Houston

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