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.

Madeline Shonka told MedShadow it took her years to get an accurate lupus diagnosis. Even then, she had to go through trial and error with many different combinations of medications for treatment, all the while trying to decipher the best lifestyle changes to manage her condition. For example, she eventually discovered that making time for light exercise had a huge positive impact on her quality of life. Jill Dehlin, an RN who suffers from migraines, told MedShadow that tracking her symptoms helped immensely. “I recommend to everyone that I speak with to keep a journal or diary and keep track…

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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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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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When viruses, bacteria and other foreign pathogens enter our bodies, our immune system fights back with inflammation — changes in blood flow and a rush of immune cells that allow it to locate and destroy the intruders. As long as the inflammation quickly retreats when it’s no longer needed, this natural process is paramount, and healthful.  However, sometimes inflammation sticks around. Chronic inflammation has been linked to a variety of diseases, including some cancers and Alzheimer’s. It’s also a driving force in autoimmune diseases like Type 1 diabetes and lupus. Such foods as sodas, sugars, highly processed carbohydrates and red…

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“Did you know you will experience symptoms of heartburn if you make too much acid, but also if you are deficient? Weird but true. Healthy amounts of stomach acid keep the tiny trap door shut between your stomach and esophagus. This sphincter is pH sensitive and in a healthy person, it stays shut because of the natural production of acid in the stomach. When you reduce stomach acid, you then have insufficient amounts, and your stomach pH increases and this causes the trap door to swing open, causing heartburn. That’s why some people who take a digestive acid supplement (like…

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