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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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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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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​Early in Dee Mangin’s career as a primary-care physician, she noticed that many people, especially older adults, were prescribed large numbers and doses of drugs, which, in some cases, might actually be detracting from their health rather than improving it. Then, she realized that even when polypharmacy (being prescribed five or more medications simultaneously) was recognized as a problem, there wasn’t any systematic way to help patients and healthcare providers assess which medicines might be most effective in a lower dose or discontinued altogether.  Mangin is an MBChB (the New Zealand equivalent of an MD) and DPH (doctor of public…

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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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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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Samantha Welch spent about 11 months avoiding the direct sunlight as best she could. She had been prescribed isotretinoin, an oral medication that treats cystic acne. A few weeks after she started taking it, she discovered that “my skin was extremely sensitized,” she says. “My face and lips were dry and visibly flaking. Direct sunlight during midday would slightly sting, even with sunscreen on. I’ve had to avoid the sun altogether.” While Welch’s prescription was intended to affect her skin, many drugs that seem to have nothing to do with your skin can cause sensitivity to sunlight. For example, over…

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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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When Chris Joseph’s oncologist prescribed chemotherapy to tackle pancreatic cancer in 2016, he says the drug made him miserable and didn’t address his cancer. “I quit. I had no Plan B, but I just didn’t want to die of chemo,” he adds. Plus, “it wasn’t helping my cancer: my tumor was still growing.” Today, he is taking pembrolizumab (Keytruda), a drug that helps his own immune system fight the cancer. His tumor has shrunk considerably, and his doctors have told him that as long as it doesn’t grow, he can live with the cancer. His story is a common one.…

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