One of the most surprising facts about cholesterol is that there is no relationship between the blood cholesterol level and the degree of atherosclerosis in the vessels. If a high cholesterol really did promote atherosclerosis, then people with a high cholesterol should evidently be more atherosclerotic than people with a low. But it isn t so.
The pathologist Dr. Kurt Landé and the biochemist Dr. Warren Sperry at the Department of Forensic Medicine of New York University were the first to study that question. The year was 1936. To their surprise, they found absolutely no correlation between the amount of cholesterol in the blood and the degree of atherosclerosis in the arteries of a large number of individuals who had died violently. In age group after age group their diagrams looked like the starry sky. Drs. Landé and Sperry are never mentioned by the proponents of the diet-heart idea, or they misquote them and claim that they found a connection, or they ignore their results by arguing that cholesterol values in the dead are not identical with those in living people.
The latter problem was solved by Dr. J. C. Paterson from London, Canada and his team. For many years they followed about 800 war veterans. Over the years, Dr. Paterson and his coworkers regularly analyzed blood samples from these veterans. Because they restricted their study to veterans who had died between the ages of sixty and seventy, the scientists were informed about the cholesterol level over a large part of the time when atherosclerosis normally develops.Dr. Paterson and his colleagues did not find any connection either between the degree of atherosclerosis and the blood cholesterol level; those who had had a low cholesterol were just as atherosclerotic when they died as those who had had a high cholesterol. Similar studies have been performed in India, Poland, Guatemala, and in the USA, all with the same result: no correlation between the level of cholesterol in the blood stream and the amount of atherosclerosis in the vessels.
I have written more about that issue in this paper:
Is atherosclerosis caused by high cholesterol?