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.

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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It’s been more than two decades since scientists first recognized that perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), compounds used in the manufacturing of a myriad everyday products, could be bad for our health. Still researchers are barely scratching the surface of what these more than 12,000 different chemicals can do. Experts from the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released a report last week describing what we do know and making recommendations for clinicians to test for PFAS exposure and provide guidance to lowering the levels of the chemicals in their bodies. Here’s what you need to know. What Are…

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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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When MedShadow started collecting comments for its side effects of COVID-19 vaccine tracker, what quickly emerged is that COVID-19 shots are also associated with substantial arm pain. That result was so common that we published a separate article about the redness, pain and rashes that sometimes followed the jabs. In most cases, this was a typical response to the vaccine, which cleared up within a few days. Injection-site reactions, including redness and pain, were the most reported side effect in the COVID vaccine trials, affecting more than 84% of patients who received a Pfizer shot. On occasion, though, the reactions appeared…

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When Lily was diagnosed with cervical cancer at age 27, she blamed herself. “Why hadn’t I taken care of myself properly?” she thought. She had regularly skipped her annual Pap smears—a common procedure, in which the doctor collects cells from the vagina wall to test for signs of cervical cancer. “I didn’t think I needed to go,” she said. But when she started bleeding and experiencing daily pelvic pain, she finally visited her OB/GYN and found out that she had cervical cancer. She’s been treated, but regrets having postponed screening because the disease left her infertile. Lily is now an…

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Tyrvaya, a new nasal spray designed to treat dry eye disease, in October 2021. A major benefit of the new drug is that it won’t require patients to apply drops directly to their eyes, which is very hard for some to tolerate. Some eye drops on the market irritate eyes and can even cause a rebound effect, making symptoms worse overtime. Some might wonder about the frequency with which patients are directed to use Tyrvaya. Rather than drops that are used as-needed, the new drug is a nasal spray that you squirt into…

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On this day, half a century ago, a study showed that a drug called diethylstilbestrol (DES) given to pregnant mothers to reduce preterm births, instead raised the risk of a rare vaginal cancer in their daughters to 40 times that of the general population. Since then, scientists have discovered that these so-called DES daughters, sons, grandchildren and the DES mothers are also more likely to experience malformed reproductive organs, breast cancer and a slew of reproductive problems. MedShadow’s founder, Suzanne Robotti, is one of those daughters.   “Between five and 10 million pregnant women were prescribed DES over 30 years,” says…

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✅ This article was reviewed by Cecile Levy, MD, member of our MedShadow Medical Advisory Board. Seventy percent of adults say they have sensitive skin, according to a 2019 study. Erum Ilyas, MD, a dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology, explains that sensitive skin is not a medical condition in and of itself. The self-diagnosed condition can mean different things to different people. “Usually when people say they have sensitive skin, they are implying that their skin gets irritated really easily,” he says. Your skin can get irritated for a variety of reasons, from dryness to allergies and even because of products…

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Over the past decade, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has initiated or supported recalls on a handful of drugs, including metformin, ranitidine (Zantac), angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARB) (valsartan, losartan and irbesartan), varenicline (Chantix), rifampin (Rifadin) and rifapentine (Priftin) — which treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and other conditions, such as heart disease and high blood pressure and aid in smoking cessation. These drugs that treat a variety of conditions have been found to contain the same chemical contaminant: N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), which may cause cancer. MedShadow answers frequently asked questions about the chemical itself and the drugs that contain…

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