Leisure, Lifestyle & Wellness
National Cancer Awareness Day: Look out for the warning signs

At first, cancer may have no signs and signals, and therefore is usually undetected. But there are subtle signals that should not be ignored. Early detection and treatment dramatically improves your chances of survival and return to good health

Today is Marie Curie’s birth anniversary and National Cancer Awareness Day. As cancer surgeons, my colleagues and I are direct witnesses to the fact that India is struck by a disaster of tsunami or earthquake proportions every single day. Over 3,000 persons—mostly middle age—die every day due to a single identifiable cause that is entirely avoidable, namely tobacco. And it is strange that nobody in the government seemed to even care until mid-2012 (when 15 states with about 60% of India’s population banned gutka under the Food Safety Regulations 2011). 
Tobacco users are hugely prone to getting cancer, respiratory illness, heart attack, stroke, etc. Ten lakh smokers and tobacco-chewers die from these illnesses every year in India—50 times more than non-tobacco users. About one-third of India’s population is hooked to tobacco. Of India’s 42 crore tobacco addicts, only about 28 crore are adults. About 14 crore persons are aged below 18 years, and they typically pick up the tobacco habit in the 6th or 7th standard. 
Besides tobacco addicts, six other high risk-groups are:
•         Women post menopause
•         Women on birth-control pills or hormone therapy
•         People working in smoky, stress-filled or otherwise toxic environments e.g. welders, traffic policemen, metal workshop & furnace personnel
•         Exposed to second-hand smoke—family members and colleagues of smokers 
•         Heavy drinkers
•         Those who suffer from disturbed sleep patterns and chronic fatigue e.g. those who frequently work night-shifts, students who habitually work overnight, etc.
At first, cancer may have no signs and signals, and therefore is usually undetected. But there are subtle signals that it is in your interest to notice and act upon. Early detection and treatment dramatically improves your chances of survival and return to good health.
As a malignant cancerous tumour grows, it may press on nerves, penetrates blood vessels and interfere with the functioning of one or more organs. Thus it causes bleeding, pain and impairment in body functions that cannot be explained by normal causes. 
Watch out for these 13 early signs of cancer:
1. Sore or lesion that does not heal, even after medication
2. Change in the look and feel of an existing wart, mole, or sore in the mouth
3. Bleeding or watery discharge from any part of the body that is abnormal
4. Thickening or lump in parts like the testicles, breast, armpits or elsewhere
5. Acidity, indigestion, difficulty in swallowing
6. Chronic fatigue, nausea, or vomiting
7. Sudden changes in bowel or bladder habits
8. Nagging cough or hoarseness in the throat
9. Persistent headaches
10. Loss of appetite, sudden weight loss for no reason
11. Pain in bones or any other areas of the body
12. Low-grade fever, either constant or intermittent
13. Poor immune system, repeated infections
If you develop any such symptoms that are not related to another medical cause, and these persist for more than two weeks, schedule a medical examination. Remember, early diagnosis and treatment is your best bet against cancer.
These early warning signs apply to all human beings—even those who have a very healthy lifestyle. However, you should definitely be more watchful if you are in one or more of the above-mentioned high-risk groups.
To read about how common sense goes a long way in helping tackle the dreaded disease, click here


Amara Raja Batteries net sales increase by 23%; profit up 35%

The south-India based automotive ancillary manufacturer posted decent results on back of increased volumes and sales on higher momentum off-take in automotive sector.

Amara Raja Batteries reported 28% year-on-year (y-o-y) increase in net sales for the quarter ended 30 September 2012. It went from Rs562.72 crore recorded in September 2011 to Rs718.72 recorded for this period. Its operating profit grew by 23% y-o-y to Rs108.61. Net profit was up 35% at Rs70.1 crore. This was a result of strong growth on both volumes and value terms and increased momentum (even if a bit subdued) automotive sector.


Click here to read about other companies’ results


It’s average y-o-y net sales growth rate was 31% and, likewise, operating profit average growth rate 45% y-o-y. Admittedly, the company has not performed as per expectation even though its net sales never reported a single decline. The valuation of the company is on the lower end, somewhat, with market capitalisation 8.9 times its operating profit while return on equity is a stupendous 33%.


According to the company, the automotive battery business reported strong growth both in volume and value despite muted demand in the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) segment of four-wheeler batteries. The growth in volumes of four-wheeler and two-wheeler batteries was primarily due to continuing momentum in all formats of aftermarket. The trading in tubular batteries and home UPS under Amaron and PowerZone private label program has sustained the impetus during the quarter, aided by strong demand.

The industrial battery business has reported a marginal growth in volume enabled by good demand from the telecom sector. It has a preferred vendor status built over the years, notwithstanding higher competitive intensity.

Commenting on the Q2 performance,  Jayadev Galla, managing director, Amara Raja Batteries said, “I am happy to note that our performance is in line with our expectations despite the fact that there has been slowdown in the automotive OEM sector. Escalating conversion and distribution costs, primarily owing to power shortage, steep increase in power tariff and diesel price, are adversely impacting the margins in OEM and telecom businesses. However, we are confident of reporting double digit growth both in topline and bottomline for FY 12-13.”

Commenting on the Q2 performance, K Suresh, chief financial officer, said, “We continue to enjoy debt-free status with free cash of over Rs340 crore as on 30 September 2012. The market capitalization of the company now stands at over Rs3800 crore aided by the company’s performance and liquidity created by the recent sub-division of face value of equity shares from Rs2 per share to Re1 each effective 26 September 2012, which we believe will delight the stakeholders who reposed faith in our long-term story.”


We had recommended this stock at when its stock price was Rs157.50 and now it is quoting at Rs257 at time.


Click here to know more about Amara Raja Batteries


CERS helps Ahmedabad resident win insurance claim for hernia surgery

On a plea from harassed complainant, Consumer Organization compels public sector insurer to pay full claim

Consumer Education & Research Society’s (CERS) continuous efforts to protect interest of the consumers have once again produced desired result, since the Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Ahmedabad in a recent order has accepted its plea objecting to unfair trade practice adopted by one of India’s leading firm, Oriental Insurance and ordered the insurer to settle the claim made by an Ahmedabad resident, which was dismissed earlier on the pretext of some conditions of the contract.


Pravinchandra Soni, a resident of Ahmedabad, had purchased a healthcare insurance for him and his wife since 2004 and the policy was renewed every year thereafter. A few years down the line, Soni got operated for hernia at a private hospital on 10 February 2009 and claimed the entire cost of the surgery i.e. Rs24,010 under the policy. However, the insurance company—Oriental Insurance Company, a public sector undertaking, partially settled the claim and limited the amount to Rs9,300 only, saying that the insurance cover was given under the Universal Health Plan in 2004 and it was converted into Medicliam policy at a later stage.


As per the conditions of the new plan, the treatment for hernia was excluded for the period of two years. As the operation was performed within the first year of the new plan, the company is not liable to pay the entire cost of the operation and offered Rs 9,300 as per old plan.


The reason for reduction in payment was explained only after Soni sought explanation in writing after repeated non cooperation from concerned authorities. Sensing that the insurance company is totally at fault and not willing to cooperate, Soni approached CERS.


CERS, on his behalf, filed a complaint in the consumer forum on7 September 2011 seeking payment of total cost incurred for the surgery along with the litigation charges and compensation for the agony faced by Pravinchandra Soni.


After hearing both the parties, the forum headed by the president AK Aswani, ruled in the favour of the complainants and asked the insurance company to pay Rs24,776 (Rs5,000  limit for hernia as per the old plan and Rs9,776 (extra amount charged for premium of two years)  with 9% interest from 7 October 2009, Rs2,000 towards litigation cost and Rs3,000 as a compensation for agony faced by Soni.


To help consumers understand health insurance, Moneylife Foundation held a seminar recently. Read about Moneylife Mediclaim seminar: Cheapest options, claims rejections and fine print.


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