Cases of prediabetes are on the rise — and that's worrisome for a number of reasons, not the least of which is a new study that has found a link between the condition and certain types of cancer.

The study, which was published in the recent issue of Diabetologia, analyzed 16 studies with collective data from 900,000 participants from around the world. Researchers found that patients who were diagnosed with prediabetes had a 15 percent overall greater risk of developing cancer. The link was strongest between prediabetes and stomach, colorectal, liver, pancreas, breast and endometrial cancers, whereas there was no link between the condition and lung, prostate, ovarian, kidney or bladder cancers.

The association between prediabetes and certain types of cancers is particularly alarming considering the increasing rate of diagnoses. The rate of prediabetes among Americans aged 18 and older rose from 29 percent in 1999-2002 to 36 percent in 2007-10.

"Considering the high prevalence of prediabetes, as well as the robust and significant association between prediabetes and cancer demonstrated in our study, successful intervention in this large population could have a major public health impact," study leader Yuli Huang, a professor from the First People's Hospital of Shunde District, China, and colleagues said in a journal news release.

As its name implies, prediabetes is a condition that occurs before a person develops full-blown diabetes. In prediabetes, blood glucose levels are high, but not high enough to be considered diabetic. And there are no distinguishing characteristics of diabetes, so it's possible for a person to have it and never know it.

Bottom line: If diabetes runs in your family, or if you think it might be a concern for you, talk to your doctor about getting tested.

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