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.

MedShadow recently posted an article in which a journalist investigates his own sleep apnea diagnosis and ends up forgoing expensive machinery and learning that sleeping on his side was all it took in his case to keep his oxygen levels stable through the night. In the Kaiser Health News article, author Jay Hancock describes an “expensive testing cascade” including an at-home test and two separate nights in a sleep lab testing for different characteristics of the condition.  Testing is not the only cascade in medicine. In recent years, researchers have started to identify “prescription cascades”—situations in which a patient is…

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A few years ago, my doctor prescribed me high doses of omeprazole (a proton pump inhibitor) to treat acid reflux twice a day. I didn’t have severe symptoms, but an endoscopy showed that the cells in my esophagus were changing toward a cancerous state to protect themselves from the acid flowing up from my stomach. For three months, I took 40mg of omeprazole each morning and evening—a typical over the counter dose is only 20mg daily—and cut out many foods that can cause acid reflux like coffee, alcohol, and my all-time favorite, dark chocolate. The next endoscopy showed my cells…

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When Zoe was 13 years old, the doctors told her she had juvenile arthritis, a diagnosis that could impact the rest of her life. For the year prior, her pain had been so severe she was walking with crutches and wearing two wrist braces. Today, she manages the condition with a combination of prescription drugs, diet, and thoughtful exercise. While physical activity is an important part of her routine, she recognized in high school that certain types—such as rowing and running—caused her more joint pain, so she switched to activities that were easier on her joints. What Is Juvenile Arthritis?…

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Read through MedShadow’s coverage of the side effects of drugs and you’ll see many of the same side effects mentioned over and over. For example, patients report nausea after taking a whole host of drugs, such as those for Lupus, HIV prevention, cancer and more. It’s crucial to differentiate side effects from symptoms, explains Suzanne Soliman, PharmD, founder of the Pharmacist Moms Group, so that you and your healthcare provider can work together to improve your care. She says, when she works with patients who are experiencing new symptoms or side effects, the first step is for her to take…

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The more aluminum a child was exposed to via vaccination by the age of 2, the more likely they were to have developed asthma by the age of 5, according to a study published in September in Academic Pediatrics. The research highlighted a potential issue that needs further study, according to experts, but it comes with caveats, and alone it cannot prove that aluminum causes asthma or suggest that physicians should stop or delay vaccines for children.  The prevalence of asthma in the United States has increased only slightly in the past two decades. In 2019, 7.8% of adults had…

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You may read the ingredients in your food. You might scan the ingredients of your medications. But, do you know what is in your vaccinations?  Typically, ingredients are included to create immunity, allow it to be long-lasting and safe, while still being effective. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that the ingredients included fall into the categories of: Stabilizers Adjuvants Residual Inactivating Ingredients Residual Cell Culture materials Residual antibiotics Preservatives. While you often hear about the active ingredients of vaccines, such as the mRNA, the attenuated virus, or viral particles designed to wake up our immune systems…

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A lot of us say that our dogs make us happy. During Covid, one study even suggested that owning a dog helped stave off depression, but dogs can be more than just good company. They can help you manage chronic diseases from epilepsy to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As Christine Henry, a licensed psychologist in Texas, explains, a client she worked with “came from a domestic violence situation. Even though she was safe, she had trouble sleeping at night and rarely left the home. Once she had a service dog, she was able to leave the home, and later was…

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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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The FDA has now authorized several COVID-19 vaccines. Both of the first two authorized vaccines rely on an immunity-building strategy that hasn’t been used in any other vaccine. As many of us start rolling up our sleeves to get a shot, here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions. What is mRNA? Why does it matter? All previous vaccines have been based on weakened virus molecules or proteins from the disease (pathogen) that our immune systems can easily overcome while learning to recognize it. The new vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer — the first two to make…

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DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) got a bad reputation in the 1980s and 1990s when reports circulated suggesting that the active ingredient in many bug sprays caused seizures, brain swelling, and death. Since then, researchers have assured the public that the chemical is safe and lowers the risk of contracting insect-borne infections such as Lyme disease, West Nile Virus, and Zika. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have reviewed case reports and clinical trials and state that, as long as it’s used according to the directions, DEET is both safe and effective. While DEET is one…

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