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New and unexpected health threats have emerged in Asia that could weigh on the world's fastest growing and most dynamic region. Diseases associated with obesity and smoking are rising, and will cause tens of millions of deaths from heart and lung disease and cancer in coming decades. But alongside these lifestyle-associated conditions, the old foe of infectious disease is reemerging and threatens to cause an even greater health and economic disaster.

Researcher in a lab © Getty Images

There remains, of course, the very dangerous problem of epidemics -- or worse, pandemics -- of "emerging infectious diseases," such as the Ebola and Zika viruses. These are already high on the list of major risks noted by the World Health Organization and most governments.

Asia has been the source of many of such outbreaks -- including severe acute respiratory syndrome and avian influenza. Given Asia's mix of vibrant trade, dense and mobile populations, eclectic culinary tastes and the world's highest concentrations of farmed animals, it is probable, rather than possible, that similar unpredictable disease outbreaks will arise there in the future.

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