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.

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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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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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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Two recently authorized antiviral drugs designed to protect against the most severe outcomes of COVID-19 may be game-changers during the ongoing pandemic. Those benefits may come at a cost, however. It’s crucial that you and your healthcare providers understand these drugs’ potential side effects, so you use them as safely as possible. “Obviously, if you’ve got a serious case of COVID, you need to be treated,” despite the risk of side effects says Katherine Seley-Radtke, PhD, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. How Effective Are They? Both drugs, Lagevrio (molnupiravir) and Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir and…

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Shalamar suffered from chronic insomnia. She couldn’t fall asleep after her late-night shifts as a server at a New York City bar. To address the insomnia, she sought advice from a psychiatrist who prescribed pills and told her to take them both at night and in the morning. She thought it was odd that she would need to take a pill to help her sleep during the day, but her doctor said that is how the medicine worked. She followed the doctor’s recommendations, though. “It did help me to sleep. I slept like a rock,” she says.  What her doctor…

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Taking too many medications raises your risk of adverse events. Deprescribing—the thoughtful process of identifying problematic medications and reducing the dose or stopping those medications in a safe, effective manner that  helps people maximize their well-being—is often easier said than done, explains Cynthia Boyd, MD, MPH, director of geriatric medicine and gerontology at Johns Hopkins University.  This is especially critical, if you have dementia or multiple chronic conditions. “There is relatively little research about how we actually deprescribe,” she says. “That speaks to the issue of how people end up on a whole bunch of medicines. It often is much…

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FDA

In 2018, two young men were found dead in their respective bathrooms in Texas after using a concentrated powder form of tianeptine.  Tianeptine is an antidepressant prescribed in Europe, Asia and South America. It’s banned in the US, but it’s found its way here. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning about the drug’s risks in 2018. Then in February 2022, the agency put out a new warning after scientists found a large increase in calls to poison control centers related to tianeptine poisoning. What is Tianeptine? Tianeptine, sold under the brand names of Coaxil and Stablon, is…

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FDA

If you watch television, you’ve likely seen the commercials for the JAK (Janus kinase) inhibitors Xeljanz and Rinvoq that make bold claims. Those ads depict men and women ziplining, moving large amounts of heavy soil, hauling furniture and riding ATVs. “The [misleading] message is that you don’t have to be limited in any way,” explains Terry Graedon, PhD, a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy. “I would say that the likelihood [is pretty slim] that this is a realistic goal for most people, much less women with rheumatoid arthritis,  especially if they are people whose condition has not…

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