Greater Risk of Premature Death Seen in Neighborhoods With Check-Cashing Outlets

New research suggests a link between the density of both check-cashing places and stores that sell alcohol in a neighborhood and the risk of premature death in people between the ages of 20 and 59.

The link was stronger in men than in women, according to Dr. Flora Matheson and Dr. Joel Ray of the Centre for Research on Inner City Health of St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.

The study’s findings suggest that the placement of check-cashing places and alcohol stores provide residents with ready access to quick cash and the purchase of alcohol. This is particularly true at the holiday season, when banks may be closed, people need money quickly, and alcohol sales go up dramatically, Matheson noted.

In their study, published in the journal BMJ Open, the researchers do not say that the check-cashing or alcohol outlets directly play a role in premature deaths.

However, their survey of Toronto’s 140 neighborhoods found that men had a 1.25 times greater risk of premature death in areas with high densities of check-cashing places. Men also had a 1.36 times greater risk of premature death in areas with high densities of alcohol outlets, including alcohol and beer stores and bars.

The study found the premature mortality rate was 96.3 for every 10,000 males and 55.9 for every 10,000 females between the ages of 20 and 59.

Intentional self-harm, accidental poisoning, and liver disease are among the top five causes of premature death among men ages 20-59, and many of these deaths are highly preventable, according to the researchers.

The researchers explained they looked at people between these ages to eliminate the causes of premature death traditionally related to newborns, children, and seniors.

The researchers noted that a substantial amount of research has been conducted on the relation between neighborhoods and residents’ health. Neighborhood disadvantage is associated with poor psychological and physical health, they said, explaining that their study factors in neighborhood income and crime rates.

The researchers noted that the alcohol and check-cashing industries are often government-regulated, but individuals freely chose to use these facilities. While there is some compelling evidence around limiting the number of alcohol outlets and hours of operation, less is known about check-cashing places, they said.

“One approach might be to offer money management services for people at risk of alcohol overuse, in whom addiction overwhelms all aspects of their lives,” Matheson said.

Since check-cashing places are often located in neighborhoods where mental illness and self-neglect are more prevalent, people in those areas may need support in banking, budget management and addiction counseling, she added.

“Moreover, physicians, nurses, addiction counselors, and social workers who help people with alcohol problems might use an individual’s neighborhood as an indicator of their risk for health decline and even recommend relocation to an area with few check-cashing places and alcohol outlets,” said Ray.

“Residential relocation has been associated with a greater cessation of injection drug use.”

Source: St Michael’s Hospital