The Dutch actress passed away in her sleep on Wednesday night (October 17) after suffering with the illness for several years, according to her agent Features Creative Management.
Kristel began her career as a model in the 1970s before being handed her big break as an actress in the erotic film Emmanuelle. Just Jaeckin's movie follows the sexual exploits of a man and his beautiful young wife in Thailand.
The actress went on to appear in several Emmanuelle sequels as well as Hollywood films such as Red Heat with Linda Blair.
Later in her career, Kristel dabbled in directing and won a 'Special Jury Prize' at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival for a short animated film she helmed called Topor et Moi.
Emmanuelle director Jaeckin, who had maintained contact with Krystel since they first collaborated, paid tribute to her following the news of her death.
"I am very sad ... She was like a little sister," The AP quotes him as saying. "We started together... Emmanuelle brought us big problems. We were a bit marked. It was a highly contested film then and now it is a cult film."
Kristel, who is survived by her partner Peter Brul and a son Arthur Kristel, is to be buried at a private funeral.
Watch a trailer for Emmanuelle below: