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.

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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If you purchased any food, medicine, cosmetics or supplements from a Family Dollar store in the past 15 months, it could be contaminated. The company issued a voluntary recall on Feb. 18, 2022, after an inspection by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) turned up more than 1,000 rats—both dead and alive—at a distribution center in Arkansas that stocks stores in several Southern states. Family Dollar says it has yet to receive any customer complaints tied to the recall, but that it has issued a voluntary recall for foods (for both humans and pets), medicines, medical devices, supplements and cosmetics…

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March 8, 2022 Update: Four patients total were infected with the same strain of Burkholderia pseudomallei. The bacterium is considered very rare in the U.S., with the CDC only reporting about 12 cases in the per year. After months of investigation, researchers posted a report in the New England Journal of Medicine on March 3, in which they traced the outbreak back to a Better Homes and Gardens room spray with a lavender and chamomile scent, which had been imported from India. Two of the patients died within days of infection. The other two patients are have ongoing symptoms and…

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Two infants have died and at least five have gotten sick between Sept. 17, 2021 and Jan. 4, 2022, with bacterial infections that may have been caused by contamination of baby formula made by Abbott Laboratories. The babies were infected with Cronobacter sakazakii and Salmonella Newport in Minnesota, Ohio and Texas. The illnesses and one death were first reported on Feb. 17, 2022, when Abbott issued a voluntary recall of the powdered formulas Similac, Alimentum and EleCare. After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported a second death on Feb. 28, Similac PM 60/40 was added to the…

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December 31 Update: Proctor and Gamble issued a voluntary recall of 32 dry spray shampoos and conditioners that also were found to contain benzene. The products include the brands, Panetene, Aussie, Herbal Essences, Waterl<ss, Hair Food and Old Spice.  October 4 Update: Five more sunscreen sprays recalled for benzene contamination. The new group is from Coppertone and includes:  Coppertone Pure & Simple SPF 50 (5 oz aerosol  spray) Coppertone Pure & Simple Kids SPF 50 (5 oz aerosol spray) Coppertone Pure & Simple Baby SPF 50 (5 oz aerosol spray) Coppertone Sport Minteral SPF 50 (5 oz aerosol spray) Travel-size…

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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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October 25, 2021 update: The CDC found a deadly bacterium, Burkholderia pseudomallei, which causes the disease melioidosis in a lavender essential oil spray called “Better Homes & Gardens Lavender & Chamomile Essential Oil Infused Aromatherapy Room Spray with Gemstones.” Read more here. The pandemic has only enhanced an already surging demand for essential oils, according to Fortune Business Insights. Those concentrated liquids, which are fragrant compounds extracted from plants, are thought to treat headaches and anxiety and to even heal wounds. In addition to selling them in their pure form, the oils have a home with cosmetic companies, which add…

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In June, police announced surprising charges in a nearly three-year-old murder case: the victim’s friend had poisoned her with eye drops. This is far from the first time the seemingly innocuous over-the-counter (OTC) medication Visine and its ilk have been used to inflict harm. In 2020, a woman was sentenced to 25 years in jail after using the same toxin to kill her husband. And the stories go back, too. A 2013 article in Wired starts by rattling off a series of criminal cases involving the liquid sold in a tiny bottle that can be poisonous, if used the wrong…

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We all know we’re supposed to wear sunscreen daily to prevent sunburns, premature aging and skin cancer, though many of us fall short of reaching that goal. Some reasons we forgo the creamy protection are that we don’t think we’re at risk, we don’t like the greasy lotion, we don’t like its smell or we aren’t happy about the the white, or even purple, cast it can leave on our skin. But those aren’t the only reasons to choose carefully. While using sunscreen regularly is crucial to preventing skin cancer, some sunscreen ingredients can do more harm than good. Here’s…

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