A parasite called Toxoplasma gondii could be a potential aggravator of Brain cancers, a new study suggests.

According to a latest geographic analysis led by the U.S. Geological Survey and French infectious disease research institute MIVEGEC, countries where Toxoplasma gondii is common had higher incidences of adult brain cancers than in those countries where the organism is not common.

Toxoplasma gondii is a single-celled organism found worldwide in at least one-third of the human population, researchers said.

“We do know that Toxoplasma gondii behaves in ways that could stimulate cells towards cancerous states, so the discovery of this correlation offers a new hypothesis for an infectious link to cancer,” parasite ecologist Kevin Lafferty of USGS said in a statement.

Researchers said that since only a few individuals per 100,000 persons suffer from brain cancers, the correlation between Toxoplasma gondii and brain cancers is far from perfect. However, they insisted that proper hygiene practices are the best ways to prevent infection from the parasite.

Toxoplasma gondii is commonly found in a variety of warm-blooded animals ranging from whales to rodents to birds. Poor hygiene and consumption of undercooked meats put human health at the risk of its infection, they said.