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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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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The primary cause of acne is clogged pores. Your pores can be clogged by bacteria, dead-skin cells or sebum, an oily substance secreted by your skin. The clogs cause redness and inflammation, which can be painful. Some doctors and patients believe that our diets can be the root cause of certain types of acne, but, for the most part, our lifestyles and hygiene are not to blame. Many women experience hormonal acne, which flares up at specific times during their menstrual cycles, or because of hormonal conditions, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a disorder that affects many women. What…

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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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Pharmacists are working in many locations, not just behind the counter at the drugstore. Clinical pharmacists are in hospitals, assisted-living facilities and more, and they can play an important role in helping you and your loved ones manage your medications, reduce side effects and be healthier. MedShadow spoke to Chad Worz, Pharm.D, CEO of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists (ASCP), which partners with TaperMD. TaperMD is a tool that evaluates medical risk and the role of different types of pharmacists and how they may help reduce side effects and ensure that your medicines are both safe and effective. MedShadow:…

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