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Did 9/11 attacks really lead to Donna Summer's death?

Donna Summer/AP photo

The unexpected news of Donna Summer's death on Thursday was a shock enough for most of us. But the side story about the actual cause of her death is becoming uncomfortable -- if that's the appropriate word -- for many people too.

TMZ continues to be one of only a few news sources saying that Summer believes she contracted lung cancer after inhaling toxic fumes after the 9/11 attacks in New York City, where she lived at the time of the terrorist attacks ("in an apartment near Ground Zero," the gossip site says.)

Among the TMZ revelations:

  • Summer became paranoid about breathing the air after the World Trade Center buildings fell.
  • She would hang silk sheets in dressing rooms to block any dust.
  • She believed the attack was centered on destroying Christianity; the singer was a born-again Christian.

Nevermind she also was a smoker who often performed in smoke-filled clubs, TMZ says.

Throughout much of the rush to find the news behind Summer's death on Thursday, other rumors were floated around by various news organizations. MSNBC at one point reported that she died of breast cancer. (Her family, for the record, didn't supply the cause of the death; "cancer" was the only answer given by her publicist.)

The terrorist attacks had become a type of obsession with the singer, the UK's Telegraph reports. "In a 2008 interview with The Daily Telegraph, she said she had a premonition about the attacks a month beforehand," the paper writes. "Afterwards she said she suffered from severe depression and could not leave her Manhattan flat."

"I didn't want to talk to anybody. I had to keep the blinds down and stay in my bedroom," she told the paper.

Her claim can't easily be dismissed, especially since the TMZ reports only say that Summer "believed" that's how she became sick. And as the Telegraph points out, at least 55 rescuers have died as a result of cancer since 9/11 and at least 75 have been diagnosed with cancer since the attacks. ("More than 18,000 people claim to have fallen ill due to inhaling dust particles from the collapse of the towers," the paper says. "And the number is constantly increasing.")

There's no word on when or if we'll hear an official and complete cause of death anytime soon. 

[Last modified: Friday, May 18, 2012 9:18am]

    

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