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 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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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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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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