They have been urged to avoid red meat and trans-fats, increase physical activity, stop drinking to avoid diseases such as cancer and diabetes.
US researchers recruited 80,000 female nurses aged between 34 and 59 and analysed data over a 24-year follow-up period.
Participants completed follow up questionnaires every two years about diet, frequency of physical activity, alcohol intake, weight, how much they smoked, and disease history. Deaths were confirmed by next of kin and the US National Death Index.
Authors documented 8,882 deaths, including 1,790 from heart disease and 4,527 from cancer.
They estimated that 28% of these deaths could have been avoided if women had never smoked and that 55% could have been avoided if women had combined never smoking, regular physical activity, a health diet and maintaining a healthy weight.
‘Even modest differences in lifestyle can have a substantial impact on reducing mortality rates,’ they wrote.