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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Recently we’ve had to familiarize ourselves with yet another virus, monkeypox. As of Sept 14, 2022, the CDC has reported nearly 23,000 cases of Monkeypox in the US. Rochelle Walensky MD, MPH, director of the CDC,  told reporters on Sept 15, “over the last several weeks, we’ve been pleased to see a decline in the growth of new cases here and abroad. There are areas of the US where the rate of rise in new cases is still increasing.” At the June 10 teleconference, Raj Punjabi, MD, senior director for Global Health Security and Biodefense, emphasized, “We have the tools…

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Shingles is not your average rash. The painful, itchy red stripe caused by shingles can last up to 10 days, while long-term nerve pain, a common complication, can persist for months or years. In the rare event that the outbreak appears on your face, it can even cause blindness. Luckily, there’s a two-dose vaccine, Shingrix (zoster vaccine recombinant, adjuvanted), that can prevent the disease. It’s recommended for people 50 years and older, even if you’ve already had shingles, and those 19 and older who are immunosuppressed. Shingles is a unique disease in that it’s not caused by a new infection.…

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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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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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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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