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.

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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Two years ago, a researcher who specializes in the safety of breast milk was in the midst of breastfeeding her own child when she experienced a serious bout of postpartum depression. She had a televisit with her doctor, who refused to write her a prescription for antidepressant medications as long as she was still breastfeeding, even though the drugs are considered safe to take during pregnancy and breastfeeding.  “A lot of times, [the] health [of the new mother] isn’t prioritized as much as that of the infant. And that’s something that we really worry about,” says Kaytlin Krutsch, PharmD, a…

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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 now world-wide outbreak of hepatitis ‘that began in fall 2021 among young children, sickening hundreds, continues nearly eight months later, as of May 2022. The medical community is searching for its cause.  Some researchers believe it may have been triggered by COVID-19 infections or by colds or other viruses. The challenge is that the term hepatitis denotes an inflammation of the liver, but in order to treat it, a doctor needs to know what caused that inflammation. That’s problematic, because a doctor must know the cause to treat it effectively. Here’s what you need to know about the many…

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As we slather on sunscreen to emerge for the summer, some dermatologists and sunscreen users of color are taking to TikTok to point out that sunscreen doesn’t look the same on everyone. While sunscreens may be designed to be invisible or leave a very light white tint, when applied to dark skin, the lotions often leave dramatic white or even purple-looking casts that don’t disappear. “It’s like putting on the wrong color makeup,” says Adrienne Haughton, MD, a dermatologist at Stony Brook Medicine. “Someone with whiter skin won’t see the white cast as much.” TikToker and skin-care chemist aprilbasi demonstrates…

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Most of us know that smoking—be it conventional cigarettes or electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes)–is likely to harm our health in some way. While many of the dangers of cigarette smoking, such as lung cancer, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and even eye diseases, are well-known, some of the dangers associated with e-cigarettes are less clear.  On June 23, 2022, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it was banning from the market all products made by the largest e-cigarette manufacturer, Juul. The agency stated that the company hadn’t provided sufficient evidence that products were not toxic. Juul appealed the…

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When the first COVID-19 vaccination was authorized back in December  2020, millions of eligible people lined up at vaccination sites, sometimes for hours, waiting for protection from the disease. Age was one of the main factors, with the country’s oldest residents up first. Week after week, the age for eligibility lowered until it reached 16 for Moderna’s shot and 18 for Pfizer’s. Before, children under the age of either 16 (for Moderna) or 18 (for Pfizer) could be vaccinated, the shots needed to undergo additional testing to evaluate the appropriate doses, side effects and efficacy in younger individuals. For children…

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Download the full Burnout or Depression Infograph. Puja Aggarwal, MD, a neurologist, remembers the time six years ago she experienced burnout. “I was working long hours, socially withdrawn, not sleeping, feeling empty and giving all my time to work. I was not able to show up well as a mother or take care of myself,” Aggarwal explained about the challenging time. After she sought the help of a life coach, she was so inspired by how the guidance helped her achieve a healthier work-life balance that she pursued a life coach certification for herself. Many of us can probably say…

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