A test to early detect Type 2 diabetes could soon be on the way.

Researchers at the Lund University Diabetes Centre have identified a protein called SFRP4 that, when at above-average levels in the blood, is linked with a five-times increased risk of developing diabetes later on, compared with those with below-average levels of the protein.

"This makes it a strong risk marker that is present several years before diagnosis," study researcher Anders Rosengren said in a statement. "We have also identified the mechanism for how SFRP4 impairs the secretion of insulin. The marker therefore reflects not only an increased risk, but also an ongoing disease process."

The research, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, included monitoring blood levels of SFRP4 in people without diabetes three times, at three-year intervals. The researchers found that 9 percent of people who had below-average levels of SFRP4 went on to develop Type 2 diabetes by the end of the study, compared with 37 percent of those who had above-average levels of SFRP4.

"In the long term, our findings could also lead to new methods of treating Type 2 diabetes by developing ways of blocking the protein SFRP4 in the insulin-producing beta cells and reducing inflammation, thereby protecting the cells," Rosengren said in the statement.

Any method to early detect diabetes is important because it could help prevent complications from the disease, the American Diabetes Association pointed out. And some people with the condition may not even present with any symptoms.

Want to lower your risk of diabetes? Click through the slideshow for some known factors to affect risk:

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  • Eat Cheese

    Despite cheese's less-than-healthy reputation, a recent study in the <a href="http://www.ajcn.org/content/96/2/382.abstract" target="_hplink"><em>American Journal of Clinical Nutrition</em></a> showed that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/27/cheese-diabetes-type-2-risk-link-_n_1699374.html?utm_hp_ref=healthy-living" target="_hplink">cheese-eaters</a> actually have a 12 percent <em>lower</em> risk of the disease than their non cheese-eating counterparts. Plus, people who ate more cheese, fermented milk and yogurt in the study were also more likely to have a decreased diabetes risk than people who ate less of these foods, noted the researchers, who came from Oxford University and Imperial College London. The people who ate the most cheese in the study consumed more than 56 grams of it per day, while those who <a href="http://www.nhs.uk/news/2012/07July/Pages/Can-a-diet-of-cheese-beat-diabetes.aspx" target="_hplink">ate the least cheese</a> in the study had fewer than 11 grams a day, the UK's NHS Choices reported.

  • Go Nuts

    Researchers from the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center found that people who <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/15/-nuts-diabetes-heart-disease_n_1423911.html" target="_hplink">regularly eat tree nuts</a> (we're talking pistachios, walnuts, almonds and cashews) have a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, as well as heart disease and metabolic syndrome. Those researchers found that nut consumption is linked with lower levels of an inflammation marker called C-reactive protein (which is associated with heart disease and other chronic conditions) and higher levels of the "good" kind of cholesterol. In addition, people who regularly ate the tree nuts had lower body mass indexes (BMI, a ratio of height to weight) than people who didn't regularly eat nuts, the <em>Journal of the American College of Nutrition</em> study said.

  • Take A Walk

    Taking a few moments <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/walking-diabetes-risk-steps_n_1637808.html" target="_hplink">for a walk each day</a> is enough to lower the risk of diabetes in high-risk people who don't regularly exercise, according to research in the journal <em>Diabetes Care</em>. University of Washington and University of Pittsburgh researchers found that people who walked the most in their study -- which included 1,826 people from Native American communities -- had a 29 percent lower risk of diabetes, compared with those who walked the least. But you didn't have to be a star walker in the study to reap the benefits -- the researchers found that 12 percent of people who took just 3,500 steps per day (there are about 2,000 steps in a mile) developed diabetes at the end of the study period, compared with 17 percent of people who <a href="http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/06/28/health-diabetes-idINL3E8HS5BR20120628" target="_hplink">walked the least</a> in the study, Reuters reported.

  • Nosh On Apples And Blueberries

    Apple, pear and blueberry eaters have lower risks of Type 2 diabetes, according to a study in the <em>American Journal of Clinical Nutrition</em>. The study was based on the diets of 200,000 people. HuffPost Canada reported that anthocyanins and fruits rich in anthocyanins were linked with <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/03/19/apples-and-blueberries-diabetes_n_1362405.html" target="_hplink">lower diabetes risk</a>; flavanoids, however, were not.

  • Get Your Rest

    A <a href="http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/early/2011/09/19/dc11-1093.abstract" target="_hplink"><em>Diabetes Care</em> study</a> from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia researchers showed that for obese teens, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/20/sleep-diabetes-obese-teens_n_972505.html" target="_hplink">getting enough shut-eye</a> is linked with a lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Researchers conducted the study on 62 obese teens. They found that sleeping between seven-and-a-half and eight-and-a-half hours a night was linked with stable glucose levels. But sleeping more or less than that was <a href="http://www.ottawasun.com/2011/09/20/lack-of-sleep-in-obese-teens-can-lead-to-diabetes-study" target="_hplink">linked with higher glucose levels</a>, the <em>Ottawa Sun</em> reported.

  • Eat Your Greens

    Eating a <a href="http://www.medicaldaily.com/news/20120427/9693/diabetes-type-2-fruit-vegetables-diet.htm" target="_hplink">range of fruits and veggies</a> could help to lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes, Medical Daily reported. The study, published in the <a href="http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/early/2012/03/30/dc11-2388" target="_hplink">journal <em>Diabetes Care</em></a>, included 3,704 people. Researchers analyzed how many fruits and vegetables, as well as the variety of fruits and vegetables, they ate, along with their Type 2 diabetes status. They found that those who ate the most <em>kinds</em> of produce -- as well as just the most produce in general -- had the lowest diabetes risk, Medical Daily reported.

  • Moderate Alcohol Consumption (For Some)

    Drinking alcohol at a moderate level is linked with a <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/24/us-health-carbs-idUSTRE7AN1TW20111124" target="_hplink">lower risk of Type 2 diabetes</a> for some people, according to <a href="http://www.ajcn.org/content/early/2011/11/01/ajcn.111.023754" target="_hplink">an <em>American Journal of Clinical Nutrition</em> study</a>. Harvard researchers found that for women with refined carb-heavy diets, moderate alcohol consumption is linked with a decreased diabetes risk of 30 percent, compared with non-imbibing women who eat similar diets, Reuters reported. "If you eat a high carb diet without drinking alcohol, your risk of developing diabetes is increased by 30 percent," study researcher Frank Hu <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/24/us-health-carbs-idUSTRE7AN1TW20111124" target="_hplink">told Reuters</a>. "However, if you eat a high carb diet, but (drink) a moderate amount of alcohol, the increased risk is reduced."

  • Coffee Drinking

    Chinese researchers found earlier this year that coffee may stop a protein <a href="http://diabetes.webmd.com/news/20120113/why-coffee-may-reduce-diabetes-risk?page=2" target="_hplink">linked with Type 2 diabetes</a> from building up, thereby possibly lowering the risk of the disease, WebMD reported. The research, published in the <em>Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry</em>, suggests that three particular compounds found in coffee are able to <a href="http://diabetes.webmd.com/news/20120113/why-coffee-may-reduce-diabetes-risk?page=2" target="_hplink">have this beneficial effect</a>: caffeine, chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid, according to WebMD.

  • Diabetes Risk Factors

    Learn how to live healthy with diabetes - What risk factors are there for diabetes?