Author: Emma Yasinski

Emma Yasinski

I am a freelance science and medical journalist, fascinated by how the scientific process leads to incredible discoveries, but also can lead to publication bias leaning toward positive findings and minimizing negatives. With a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from Lafayette College and a Master’s in Science and Medical Journalism from Boston University, I’ve written about clinical trial transparency, organ donation, and basic molecular biology for publications like The Scientist, The Atlantic, Undark.org, Kaiser Health News, and more. At MedShadow, I research and write about the sometimes unexpected ways that medicines can affect us, and what we can do if and when it does.

When Pat (now 71) was in her 40s, her vaginal dryness became so severe that the vaginal tissue would flare with even a gentle wipe. She’d been exposed to a drug called DES (diethylstilbestrol) when she was in utero, which caused myriad health issues as she grew up, and was likely behind the dryness. For her, coconut oil made a huge difference. “If only I had known I was not alone with this personal issue,” she says. Vaginal dryness is likely more common than you think. It can affect women of any age, but is especially prevalent among those who…

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The Northern Hemisphere is in the midst of yet another record-breaking heat wave. 1,700 people died from heat-related causes in Spain and Portugal over the past week. The heat is now battering the United Kingdom. Simultaneously, dangerous levels of heat are blanketing large swaths of the United States. Extra-high temperatures are perilous for everyone, but they are even more so for the elderly, people who need electric medical equipment and for those on medications with side effects that can increase their sensitivity to heat. You may need to take extra caution to remain safe when the heat rises. Heat exhaustion…

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A new chemotherapy drug promises to treat some patients with pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) who have been unable to take the other two other chemo medicines because one can cause allergic reactions and the other is frequently in short supply.  This summer, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) fast-tracked the approval of Rylaze, a newer version of the chemo drug Erwinaze to treat ALL, made by Jazz Pharmaceuticals, which was previously distributed Erwinaze. The agency approved Rylaze based on an ongoing Phase 2/3 trial of about 102 patients, with an average age of 10.  The rare disease ALL affects…

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Around the country this July, the skies grew hazy and the sun burned red, as the smoke of wildfires from California to Canada blew across North America. A TikToker from Utah, @mandeemo_4045, has shown the dramatic effect of the haze in her state. @mandeemoe_4045#wildfire #smoky #utah #airqualityalert #fyp #oregonfire #gross♬ Fast – Sueco the Child Another, @world_gone_wild, shared a series of harrowing scenes from the East Coast.  @world_gone_wild#wildifre #connecticut #connecticutcheck #connecticutlife #massachusetts #maine #newengland #hazy #hazytiktok #wildfiresmoke #tennessee #redsun #haze♬ Smoke on the Water (2017 Remaster) – Deep Purple As wildfires blanket the US  with smoke each year, health…

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Samantha Welch spent about 11 months avoiding the direct sunlight as best she could. She had been prescribed isotretinoin, an oral medication that treats cystic acne. A few weeks after she started taking it, she discovered that “my skin was extremely sensitized,” she says. “My face and lips were dry and visibly flaking. Direct sunlight during midday would slightly sting, even with sunscreen on. I’ve had to avoid the sun altogether.” While Welch’s prescription was intended to affect her skin, many drugs that seem to have nothing to do with your skin can cause sensitivity to sunlight. For example, over…

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May 26 Update: Only 62.6% of patients taking methotrexate, an immunosuppressant drug used in some cancer patients, mounted an effective antibody response to Pfizer’s vaccine, according to a study Stephanie, a Stage 4 endometrial cancer patient who has undergone both chemotherapy and immunotherapy since 2019, has been especially cautious throughout the pandemic. “We know how deadly this virus is, especially for older people and those who are immunocompromised,” like herself, she says. “And if not lethal, the complications for Covid-19 survivors are severe.”  The jury is still out on how exactly the COVID-19 vaccine affects cancer patients. Yet some studies point…

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Earlier this week, the United States paused the use of Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine to investigate six cases of blood clots, one fatal, that occurred in women within two weeks of receiving the shot. MedShadow reported this in our vaccine side effect tracker article.  In a rush to assuage fears about taking the J&J vaccine, some experts, and even lay people,  took to social media to put the risk in perspective. Many compared the potential of getting a blood clot from taking oral contraceptives (one in 1,000) to that of getting a blood clot from having the vaccine…

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MedShadow is introducing a weekly news feature called Quick Hits: brief summaries of recent news items related to our mission. Light therapy is under investigation as a way to ease the fatigue and depression that people with cancer often suffer from. Researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City conducted a series of clinical trials examining whether regular exposure to bright white light from a light box could improve their symptoms. In the latest trial, cancer patients exposed to the bright white light saw their depression symptoms subside much more than a control group…

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